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Iraq Executes 36 Accused Of Slaying More Than A Thousand Iraqi Soldiers

An Iraqi man prays in 2015 for his slain relative, at the site of a mass grave, believed to contain the bodies of Iraqi soldiers killed by Islamic State group militants when they overran Camp Speicher military base, in Tikrit, Iraq.

Iraq has executed 36 people accused of participating in the ISIS massacre of more than a thousand Iraqi troops in 2014.

As NPR's Alison Meuse told our Newscast unit, that massacre happened when ISIS, a Sunni extremist group, overran a former U.S. military base called Camp Speicher. Here's more from Alison:

"[In 2014], ISIS separated the Sunnis from the Shiites, and massacred the latter. The group posted photos and videos of its victims, gunned down as they laid face down in shallow graves. Those graves were uncovered last year, when Iraqi troops and allied, Shiite-led paramilitaries drove ISIS from the area. Some 1,700 bodies were recovered."

The bodies were found at more than 10 different burial sites after Tikrit was retaken, as we reported.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi "had ordered the fast tracking of death sentences, despite international concerns over Iraq's judicial process," as Alison reported. She added that the "U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights warned against the move, citing U.N. findings on a lack of due process and a reliance on torture to extract confessions."

Likewise, "some of the defendants said they had not been near Tikrit at the time of the massacre, while others said they had been denied access to lawyers, or had been forced to confess under torture," as the BBC reported. It added that those executed today are all thought to be Iraqis and received death sentences in February.

As Reuters reported, "the government came under increased pressure from local Shi'ite politicians to execute militants sentenced to death after a massive bombing that targeted a shopping street in Baghdad on July 3, killing at least 324 people."

The brutal massacre was the focus of a 2014 U.N. report, which as we reported, detailed a " 'staggering array' of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by the self-declared Islamic State in Iraq, including mass executions, the kidnapping of women and girls to use as sex slaves and the use of child soldiers."

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