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U.S. turns Saddam's half-brothers over to Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military has delivered two of Saddam Hussein’s half-brothers and his former defense minister into Iraqi custody along with nearly 200 other inmates at a Baghdad prison, a deputy justice minister said on Friday.

Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan, Saddam Hussein's half brother and presidential adviser, appears before the Special Tribunal Investigative Judicial Committee in Iraq in this photograph released by the Iraqi Special Tribunal on June 26, 2005. REUTERS/STR New

The men were transferred to Iraqi authorities on Thursday along with a final section of Cropper prison, a detention center built in 2006 near the capital’s international airport.

Saddam’s half-brothers, Sabaawi Ibrahim al-Hassan and Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan, and former defense minister Sultan Hashim all face death sentences, Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim said.

They were among 55 people on the U.S. most wanted list after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that deposed Saddam and were later convicted of crimes against humanity.

“The sentences on those men are final. We will implement the sentence (execution) after a presidential decree is issued,” Ibrahim said, adding he did not know when the decree would be issued.

U.S. forces are handing over bases, jails and prisoners to Iraqi authorities as they prepare for a full withdrawal at the end of the year, more than eight years after the invasion.

Saddam was executed in December 2006.

The U.S. military turned over most of what was then known as Camp Cropper to Iraq a year ago, ending an ignominious chapter of the invasion that saw thousands of people detained without charges and triggered outrage after disclosures of prisoner abuse.

At the time of the handover last July, U.S. wardens continued to guard about 200 of Cropper’s 1,500 detainees, including al Qaeda militants and Saddam’s henchmen. The camp was renamed Karkh prison.

The Iraqi Justice Ministry received 196 inmates from the Americans on Thursday, all of the remaining Cropper prisoners but for 10 whose paperwork had not been completed, Ibrahim said.

Reporting by Khalid al-Ansary; Editing by Matthew Jones