Former Interior Minister of Iraq Mahmoud Thiab al-Ahmed, who served under former dictator Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], was released from prison on Tuesday after serving an eight-year sentence for his part in draining the marshes in Southern Iraq. Saddam had accused people living in the marsh areas [Reuters report] of being disloyal to the government in the 1980s. The regime allegedly took steps to deliberately drain the ancient marshes in order to drive out the inhabitants. The former marsh areas are now a source of dangerous sand storms in the country. The Iraqi government has struggled in recent years to restore the marshes.
Saddam Hussein was executed in 2006 [JURIST report] and several of his associates have been sentenced to death. The Iraqi government carried out the execution [JURIST report] of Abid Hamid Mahmud, a former bodyguard and secretary of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], last month. Mahmud was sentenced to death [JURIST report] by hanging in 2010 alongside former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and one other official, after being convicted of genocide in connection with his service under Hussein. The three officials were members of Saddam's Baath Party [BBC backgrounder] and were convicted for their roles in the persecution of various Iraqi religious parties, including the Dawa Party [party website]. Aziz remains in prison [AFP report], and it is unclear if his execution will be carried out