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Scores face execution in Iraq six years after invasion

On the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, nearly 130 people face imminent execution in the country. The Supreme Judicial Council, speaking for the Iraqi government, confirmed the numbers to Amnesty International last week. The authorities are reported to be planning to carry out the executions in batches of 20 per week. The death penalty was suspended for over a year following the US-led invasion of Iraq. Paul Bremer, then US Administrator for Iraq, suspended its use on 10 June 2003. However, it was reinstated on 8 August 2004 and hundreds of people have since been sentenced to death. Scores have been executed. At least 285 people were sentenced to death in 2008; at least 34 were executed. In 2007, at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 executed, while, in 2006, at least 65 people were put to death. The actual figures could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution. Most of those currently facing execution are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial. Some are likely to have been convicted of crimes such as murder and kidnapping on the basis of confessions they allege were extracted under torture during their pre-trial detention by Iraqi security forces. Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.