January 25, 2010 / 7:03 PM / 10 years ago

Ex-Iraqi lawmaker sentenced to death for killings

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A court in Baghdad sentenced a former Iraqi lawmaker to death in absentia for a series of sectarian murders, including a 2007 suicide attack in parliament, a government spokesman said on Monday.

Mohammed al-Daini, a Sunni Arab politician, denied the charges that surfaced almost a year ago that he ordered car bombings, mortar attacks and mass murders during the height of the sectarian violence that followed the U.S.-led invasion.

Daini later disappeared and was captured in October trying to use a fake passport at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to the government.

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the government was requesting Daini’s extradition from Malaysia.

“The hand of justice will catch him,” he told al-Hurra television channel.

The Shi’ite-led government broadcast tapes of two of Daini’s bodyguards describing their involvement in kidnappings and other crimes they said were ordered by Daini in Baghdad and his home province of Diyala. Many of them targeted Shi’ites.

They also said he ordered 100 people buried alive in revenge for the deaths of 10 associates.

The most notorious attack Daini is accused of masterminding was the 2007 assault inside Iraq’s heavily guarded parliament, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the cafeteria where lawmakers smoke and drink coffee between legislative sessions.

Daini, whose parliamentary immunity was lifted last year, said his guards’ purported confessions were extracted by force.

Iraqi court officials were not available to confirm the sentence.

Daini was a member of the National Dialogue Front, whose leader Saleh al-Mutlaq is at the center of a political storm triggered by a government panel’s decision to bar about 500 candidates from Iraq’s March elections for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath party.

Mutlaq is one of the most well-known politicians banned by the Justice and Accountability Commission, and has chalked the decision up to a bid from some Shi’ite politicians to eliminate election competition.

Reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Michael Christie

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