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Shi'ite Leader Calls For Swift Execution Of Hussein Codefendants --> SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim (file photo) (epa) January 8, 2006 -- An Iraqi Shi'ite leader today defended former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's hanging as a "bold step" by the government.

Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim also urged authorities to expedite the execution of two former Hussein-era officials who were sentenced to death together with Hussein in November.

Former chief judge Awad al-Bandar and Hussein's half-brother, former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, have been convicted of crimes against humanity in the killings of 148 Shi'a in the 1980s.

Al-Hakim also said his community was the victim of "sectarian genocide" under Hussein.

(Reuters, AP, dpa)

Sectarian Iraq

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SUNNI, SHI'A: Iraq is riven along sectarian lines, faults that frequently produce violent clashes and are a constant source of tension. Sectarian concerns drive much of Iraqi politics and are the main threat to the country's fragile security environment.

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