Hussein's Former Deputy Hanged

ReutersRamadan speaking during final arguments at his trial in Baghdad in July.
BAGHDAD -- Saddam Hussein's former deputy was hanged before dawn Tuesday, the fourth man to be executed for the killings of 148 Shiites following a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Hussein's vice president when the regime was ousted, went to the gallows on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

Bassam al-Hassani, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said the execution went smoothly.

Ramadan appeared to be frightened, the adviser said, and recited on the gallows the two shahadahs -- a declaration of faith repeated by Muslims: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet."

The adviser said precautions were taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Hussein's half brother and co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim, who was inadvertently decapitated on the gallows during his January execution.

Ramadan, who was nearly 70, was weighed before the hanging and the rope was chosen accordingly, Hassani said.

The execution took place at 3:05 a.m. at an Iraqi army and police prison, which had been the headquarters of Hussein's military intelligence, in a predominantly Shiite district in northern Baghdad.

Ramadan had been in the custody of the U.S. military, but was handed over to the Iraqis about an hour before the hanging, said al-Hassani, who witnessed the execution.

Maliki has not attended any of the executions, but representatives from his office, a judge and a prosecutor attended the hanging, along with members of the justice and interior ministries and a physician.

The prosecutor read out the court verdict upholding the death sentence and Maliki's decision to carry it out, the adviser said, adding that a defense lawyer who attended the execution received Ramadan's written will.

The contents were not revealed, although a Sunni cleric later said Ramadan had asked to be buried near Hussein.

Yahya Ibrahim, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, said Ramadan's body would be received by members of Hussein's tribe later Tuesday and would be buried near Barzan Ibrahim in Ouja, on the outskirts of Tikrit.

The graves, along with those of Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, and grandson Mustafa, are in the courtyard of the building in which the former leader is buried. Ibrahim also said three days of mourning would be held for Ramadan.

The hanged man's sister, Khadija Ramadan, a professor at San'a University, was reached in Yemen and said their 85-year-old mother was in deep mourning for her son.

In violence on Tuesday, a parked car bomb exploded near a major bus station in central Baghdad, killing five civilians and wounding 18, police said.

A suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into an Iraqi army checkpoint in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding another, police said. A roadside bomb struck the area about five minutes later but caused no casualties.

At noon, a car bomb exploded in a tunnel in downtown Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding seven others, police said.

Seven civilians also were wounded in two separate attacks in southeastern Baghdad as the war entered its fifth year.