Published: 09:00 GMT Standard Time - Wednesday 08 February 2012
Baghdad church siege convicts sentenced to death
Country/Region: Iraq, Middle East and North Africa
Three men convicted of the 2010 siege on a Baghdad church in which over 50 people were killed have been sentenced to death.
A door to the Baghdad church
was riddled with bullets
Iraq’s highest court ratified the penalty on Thursday 2 February. Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council, said:
There are three convicted criminals. All of them are Iraqis and they were convicted based on the terrorism law.
The sentence is final and it will be sent to the presidency to issue a decree to the Justice Ministry to execute it.
On 31 October 2010 armed militants took around 100 worshippers hostage during an evening service at the Baghdad church. Over 50 hostages and police were killed and more than 60 people injured in the attack, which ended when security forces stormed the building.
Twelve suspects were arrested at the end of November 2010 in connection with the incident. One of the alleged leaders, Huthaifa al-Batawi, known as al-Qaeda’s “Emir of Baghdad”, was killed in an attempted jailbreak last May.
The al-Qaeda affiliated group, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the bloodiest recorded assault on Iraqi Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion.
The hostage siege and subsequent violence prompted another exodus of Iraqi Christians from the capital, with hundreds of families fleeing to the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Christians have been targeted with violence in Iraq since the Gulf War of 1990-91, when they became associated with the Western invaders because of their faith. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes; the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.5 million in 1990 to perhaps as low as 400,000 today.