Senior Saddam aide executed in Iraq

BAGHDAD Thu Jun 7, 2012 11:36am EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - One of Saddam Hussein's closest aides who handed down many of the dictator's repressive orders was executed in Iraq on Thursday, the justice ministry said.

Abed Hamoud, Saddam's private secretary, was regarded by many Iraqis as more influential than most ministers.

He was number four on the U.S. list of most-wanted Iraqi officials following the 2003 invasion, after the Sunni dictator and his sons.

He was sentenced to death in 2010 on charges of orchestrating a crackdown against rival political parties in Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s, including assassinations and unlawful detentions.

Under Saddam, who was executed in 2006 after being ousted in the U.S.-led invasion, only the ruling Baath party was allowed to exist. Attempts by the country's Shi'ite majority to establish political organizations were crushed.

Saddam's regime killed tens of thousands of people in campaigns against minority Kurds and the Shi'ite majority. Hamoud was often seen by the former dictator's side in his tours of Iraq during the 1980s and 1990s.

"Abed Hamoud was executed Thursday afternoon," said Haider al-Saadi, spokesman for the justice ministry.

Hamoud was the fifth former Saddam official to be executed in Iraq after the dictator. Others, including former prime minister Tareq Aziz and intelligence chief Sadoun Shakir, have been sentenced to death but are still being held in prison.

Executions of former Saddam officials have been sensitive in Iraq where sectarian tensions still run high after the last U.S. forces left the country in December last year.

The Vatican has appealed to Iraq's Shi'ite-led government not to execute Aziz, saying his death would not help reconciliation efforts.

(Reporting by Raheem Salman; Editing by Patrick Markey and Pravin Char)

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