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Iraq: Court upholds death sentence for church attackers

last update: February 02, 14:58

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Baghdad, 2 Feb. (AKI) - An appeals court on Thursday upheld the death sentence for three men involved in an attack on a Syrian catholic church in Baghdad that left 52 dead and 75 wounded.

In August last year a court in central Iraq sentenced three Al-Qaeda militants to death by hanging for the 31 October 2010 attack on the Our Lady of Salvation church.

Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Forty-four worshippers, seven members of the Iraqi security forces and two priests were killed.

"There are three convicted criminals. All are Iraqis and they were convicted based on the terrorism law," said Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, spokesman for the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council. "The sentence is final and it will be sent to the presidency to issue a decree to the Justice Ministry to execute it."

Iraq's constitution requires the presidential council - made up of the president and two vice presidents - to sign off on capital punishment cases before the death sentence is carried out.

The attack was the biggest on Christians since the American invasion in 2003. It stoked fears among minority Christians that Sunni Islamist insurgents aim to drive them out of their Iraq and rekindle sectarian warfare.

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