BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has suspended the execution of a Yemeni prisoner whose family claims was 16 years old when he was taken into custody, an Iraqi official and human rights advocates said Wednesday. Iraqi officials dispute that he was a minor at the time of his arrest.
Human Rights Watch earlier this week urged authorities in Baghdad to stay the execution of Saleh Moussa Ahmed al-Baidany. The group said his execution would have been Iraq’s first in 25 years of someone who was a minor when detained.
Al-Baidany was picked up by the U.S. military in August 2009 along the Iraq-Syria border, his father told the advocacy group. He was later handed over to Iraqi authorities, found guilty of terrorist activities and sentenced to death.
The advocacy group’s Iraq researcher, Erin Evers, said the sentence has now been postponed, although al-Baidany remains detained on death row and his fate is uncertain.
“We’re still extremely concerned about his position,” she said. “Nobody’s made any promises.”
Iraqi Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim confirmed that al-Baidany’s execution has been halted until further notice following an intervention by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Ibrahim disputed claims by the Yemeni’s family that he was a minor at the time of his arrest.
Al-Baidany was carrying no documents showing his age when he was detained, so authorities turned to a forensic medical committee to figure out how old he was, Ibrahim said. It determined he was born in 1987, making him about 22 years old at the time of his capture.
Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar had no details on the case. Under Iraqi law, someone arrested at age 16 would not be subject to the death penalty, he said.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had no immediate comment.
The Yemeni man’s father, Moussa al-Baidany, told the rights group his son was 16 when he was detained and said he has a birth certificate to prove it.
In a phone interview from Yemen, he said the family remains worried about the detained man’s fate. The younger al-Baidany had been living with his grandmother before making his way to Iraq.
“My son was still young and had no experience in this life, and his travelling to Iraq was the wrong thing to do,” he said. “I hope the Iraqi government shows mercy.”
Iraqi authorities this week also halted the execution of a Libyan man whose case was highlighted by Human Rights Watch, Ibrahim said. The group had said it was concerned that Iraq would put Adel Shalani to death without disclosing details about the case.
Iraq has executed 129 people so far this year, an increase over previous years. Most of those sentenced to death were convicted in terrorism-related cases.
International observers have raised concerns about the fairness of the legal process and the possibility that some of the verdicts were politically motivated, including death sentences issued against the country’s fugitive Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi.
Iraq continues to struggle with law and order nearly 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Attacks Wednesday killed four police officers in Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, and two others in Abu Ghraib in the western suburbs of Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials. Gunmen also shot dead a police captain in Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the capital.
In Baghdad, a suspected al-Qaida detainee tried to blow himself up inside a jail cell, wounding himself and six others, according to police officials. Prison authorities are investigating how the inmate, who was transferred to the facility a few days ago, managed to get the explosives belt inside the prison complex.
Officials provided details of the attacks on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
In mid-2012, the same prison was the scene of a deadly shooting. An inmate using a smuggled gun shot two guards dead before killing himself.
Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed reporting.
Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at http://twitter.com/adamschreck
More Related Stories
- Illinois' fracking and coal rush is a national crisis
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11