Bank robbers receive death sentences

Posted on | September 3, 2009

rafidanOn 2 September 2009, at the Rusafa Felony Court in Baghdad, four men, all Iraqi security force members, were convicted and sentenced to death for the robbery and brutal murder of eight bank guards at the the Zuwiya branch of the Rafidain Bank in Central Baghdad on 28 July 2009. The men were named as Ali Eidan, Basheer Khalid, Ali Ouda and Ahmad Khalaf. According to Al-Jazeera, Ouda had previously testified that Jafar Lazim Eshkaya al-Timimi, a captain in the presidential guard, and lieutenant Amin Karim, his nephew who also previously served in the unit, had masterminded and carried out the robbery. About 5.6 billion Iraqi dinars (euro 3.4m)(US$4.8m) was stolen. Much of the money was recovered from the offices of a newspaper owned by Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the Iraqi vice president and a senior member of Iraq’s largest Shia party.
The trial took two and a half days from start to sentence.
A fifth defendant who worked at the newspaper was acquitted. Four more suspects are still at large and will be sentenced in absentia if not recovered.
Two of the accused men were without legal representation. Under Article 252 of the Criminal Procedure Code No. 23 of 1971 the convicted men have 30 days in which to petition for appeal to the Court of Cassation. In addition under Article 254(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Court of Cassation automatically review all death sentences even if an appeal petition has not been lodged.
The New York Times has a good piece on the wider implications of the trial – both positive and negative. And the Economist asks whether Iraq is becoming a police state.