[JURIST] An official of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council has confirmed that Iraqi authorities executed 13 insurgents by hanging Thursday in Baghdad, the first official executions of insurgents carried out in the country since the restoration of the death penalty [JURIST report] in 2004. The insurgents were said to have been convicted in separate trials earlier this year. Three convicted murderers were previously executed by hanging [JURIST report] in September 2005.
Iraqi President Jalal Talibani [BBC profile], who does not approve of the death penalty, declined to sign the latest execution orders himself and instead delegated that duty to one of his vice-presidents. The executions come in the midst of escalating sectarian violence between the mostly-Sunni insurgents and the majority Shiites which some observers say is escalating in the direction of outright civil war [JURIST report]. AP has more.