A leader of a Sunni Awakening Council was sentenced to death for kidnapping and murder on Thursday, setting off charges that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government was trying to weaken the Sunni movement, which is credited with much of the reduction of sectarian violence here since 2006.
The Sunni leader, Adil al-Mashhadani, who led the Awakening militia in the impoverished Fadhil neighborhood of Baghdad, was arrested in March on charges of terrorism. His arrest set off 24 hours of fighting between Awakening members and American and Iraqi security forces, after which the government dissolved the Fadhil council.
A spokesman for the Justice Ministry, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, provided no further details about the crime.
The Awakening Councils, also known as the Sons of Iraq, are local groups, including former insurgents and Baathists, who turned against the insurgency and received pay, first from the Americans and now from the Iraqis. Under their agreement with the government, they have tacit amnesty for past acts of sectarian violence but not for crimes like murder. [continued…]