Iraq's government says it executed two close aides of former president Saddam Hussein before dawn Monday. The two men were sentenced to die for their roles in the deaths of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites in the village of Dujail in 1982.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed that Saddam's half brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, and the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, were hanged early this morning.
The spokesman said the hanging took place at three o'clock in the morning.
He noted that Barzan's head was ripped off his body during the hanging.
He said the decapitation was unintentional, and that such incidents sometimes occur in hangings.
These executions come two weeks after Saddam was hanged December 30th for the Dujail killings in a chaotic scene that has drawn international criticism.
A mobile phone video of that execution shows observers taunting the former dictator as he stood on the gallows.
The Iraqi government spokesman said there was no taunting in Monday's execution. He said all participants and observers had signed a written pledge to refrain from such actions.
The spokesman said the execution was witnessed by a prosecutor and a judge, and attended by a doctor.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had urged his government to delay executing Saddam's two co-defendants.
But Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had said international criticism of the hanging would not deter his government from punishing other officials of the former government.