Iraq court sentences two to death for killing protester

More than 600 people were killed during protests which erupted in 2019 and led to demands for an overhaul of Iraq's political system

TOPSHOT - An Iraqi protester chants slogans during a demonstration against state corruption, failing public services and unemployment at Tayaran square in Baghdad on October 2, 2019. Iraq's president and the United Nations urged security forces to show restraint after two protesters were killed in clashes with police that other top officials blamed on "infiltrators." / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

An Iraqi court sentenced two people to death over the killing of a teenager who took part in anti-government protests last year, the Supreme Judicial Council said on Tuesday.

The two people, who were not identified, had “confessed to the murder” of Moujtaba Ahmed, who was shot in the head during demonstrations in the southern province of Basra, the council said in a statement.

They were sentenced to death by hanging at a court in Basra. The convicts have 30 days to appeal the verdict. A decree authorising their execution must also be signed by President Barham Salih.

Large-scale protests erupted across much of Iraq in October 2019 and continued for months, venting popular anger over poor governance, crumbling public services and widespread corruption.

More than 600 people were killed during the demonstrations, which grew to demand an overhaul of the entire political system.

On Monday, the same court sentenced another man to death over the killing of two journalists covering the demonstrations in Basra in January 2020.

A number of activists and public figures also died in targeted assassinations, including former government adviser Hisham Al Hashimi, who was shot near his home in July 2020.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has repeatedly vowed to bring the killers to justice.

Government advisers previously told AFP that those targeting the activists were from paramilitary organisations, without naming the groups.

Iraq's 2019 protests — in pictures

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 5:13 AM