Hanging video shows Ibrahim's severed head

The official video of hanging of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants screened for reporters today shows the former leader's half brother lying headless below gallows, his severed head several yards away.

The video shows Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, being hanged side by side.

They wore red prison jumpsuits. As they reached the gallows black hoods were put on their heads.

Five masked men surrounded them.

After the trap doors opened, al-Bandar could be seen dangling from the rope. Ibrahim's body was lying on the floor, chest down, his severed head yards away.

The execution was conducted on the same gallows where Saddam was hanged on December 30.

In confirming the executions, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the head of one of the accused, Barzan Ibrahim, had been severed during the hanging in what he called "a rare incident".

But he stressed that all laws and rules were respected during the proceedings, choosing his words carefully after Saddam's execution became an unruly scene that brought worldwide criticism of the Iraqi government. Video of the execution, recorded on a cell phone camera, showed the former dictator being taunted on the gallows.

"Those present signed documents pledging not to violate the rules or otherwise face legal penalties," he said. " All the people present abided by the government's rule and there were no violations.

"No one shouted slogans or said anything that would taint the execution. None of those charged were insulted."

Police in Ouja, the town where Saddam was born and then buried just outside Tikrit, said two graves had been opened near Saddam's grave in a building he constructed during the 1990s as a community centre for religious occasions.

The police said the bodies of Ibrahim and al-Bandar had been transported from Baghdad to the US military base in Tikrit in preparation for burial in Ouja.

Tikrit is 80 miles north of Baghdad.

Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, had been found guilty along with Saddam of in the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former leader in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.

The announcement drew outrage from some in the Sunni community, while majority Shiites who were heavily persecuted under Saddam's regime expressed joy.

Khalaf al-Olayan, a leader of the main Sunni bloc in parliament, demanded to see any video taken during the execution.

"It is impossible for a person to be decapitated during a hanging," he told Al-Jazeera television.

"This shows that they (the government) have mutilated the body and this is a violation of the law."

"We want to see the video that was taken during the execution of the two men in order for them (government) to prove what they are saying," he added.

Ibrahim's son-in-law, Azzam Saleh Abdullah, said: "We heard the news from the media. We were supposed to be informed a day earlier but it seems that this government does not know the rules."

He said it reflected the hatred felt by the Shiite-led government.

"They still want more Iraqi bloodshed. To hell with this democracy," he said.

A government official said the families of Ibrahim and al-Bandar would collect the bodies later today.

"The two bodies are being held at a morgue at the present time," the official said, without specifying which morgue.

The head of Saddam and Ibrahim's clan, meanwhile, said he was going to Baghdad to claim the bodies.

Sheik Ali al-Nidda said he was going to claim the bodies and al-Bandar had asked in his will to be buried beside Saddam.

He also said a mourning session would be held in the Saddam mosque in the ousted leader's hometown of Tikrit.

He said there has been no reaction to the latest executions yet in Tikrit but noted the city has been without power since Sunday.

The executions reportedly occurred in the same Saddam-era military intelligence headquarters building in north Baghdad where the former leader was hanged two days before the end of 2006, according to an Iraqi general. The building is located in the Shiite neighbourhood of Kazimiyah.

"They (government) called us before dawn and told us to send someone. I sent a judge to witness the execution and it happened," prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon said.

Al-Dabbagh said those in attendance included a prosecutor, a judge and a physician.

"All laws were respected," he said, but added that "in a rare incident the head of the accused Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan was separated from his body during the execution."

An Egyptian forensics expert, Fakhri Mohammed Saleh, told Al-Jazeera that decapitations sometimes occur during hangings if the rope used is of the wrong quality or the people carrying out the executions are inexperienced.

"This is a grave mistake because what meant by execution to end the one's life not to torture him," he told the pan-Arab station from Bahrain. "So, if they want to carry out a death by hanging, they should bring a person who is an expert on this operation to check that the rope is appropriate and it does not consist of artificial fibres that do not lead to a cut in the neck."

The two men were to have been hanged along with Saddam on December 30, but Iraqi authorities decided to execute Saddam alone on what National Security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called a "special day".

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