Iraq executes seven on ‘terrorism’ charges: official

Iraq executes seven on ‘terrorism’ charges: official
Two convicted drug traffickers may be spared the death penalty following recent changes to drug laws here, after prosecutors said on Wednesday the two men had assisted the authorities in investigations.

BAGHDAD- Iraq has executed seven people over the past two days convicted on terrorism charges, the justice minister said on Thursday.

The seven "were found guilty under Article IV of the anti-terrorism law," Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari said in a statement, adding that all seven were Iraqi nationals.

Iraq has executed nearly 170 people this year who were convicted of terrorism charges, but the rulings have had no discernable impact on the unrest gripping the country.

Violence in Iraq has surged this year to levels not seen since 2008, when it was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.

Executions in Iraq, usually carried out by hanging, have increased this year despite persistent international calls for a moratorium.

Diplomats have voiced worry that the pace of executions may increase ahead of elections due to be held on April 30, arguing that officials will be keen to show they are tough on security.

The United Nations, European Union and human rights groups have condemned the high rate of executions, with UN human rights chief Navi Pillay saying earlier this year that Iraq's criminal justice system was "not functioning adequately."

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