|Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti (left), Awad Hamed al-Bander
Baghdad, Jan. 15 (Reuters): In Geneva, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was Saddam’s dapper “banker in the West” but in Iraq he was his brother’s ruthless enforcer, a man who ate grapes as he watched torture and was reputed to have a meat grinder for human flesh.
His death was as grisly as some of those he inflicted on others. His head was ripped from his body by the hangman’s noose as he plunged through the trapdoor of the gallows, according to a government spokesman who called it a rare mishap.
Barzan was hanged today with former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bander, both found guilty with Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity in the killing of 148 Shias from Dujail after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982.
One of Saddam’s three half-brothers, and 14 years his junior, Barzan was a former head of the Mukhabarat intelligence service and one of the most feared men in Iraq.
A witness at his trial said Barzan had personally supervised his torture with electric shocks in Baghdad in the 1980s, and had eaten grapes while the man screamed in agony. Another witness described how Barzan beat her and broke her ribs after she was hung naked from the ceiling by her feet.
Prosecution witness Ahmed Hassan described being taken to Barzan’s interrogation facility in Baghdad and seeing a meat grinder for human flesh. Barzan was said to have roamed Dujail with a sniper rifle firing indiscriminately after the attack on Saddam’s motorcade.
Bander presided over the Revolutionary Court which sentenced 148 Shia men and youths to death after an assassination attempt on Saddam in the town in 1982.
Widely circulated film of him viciously kicking a man who lies cowering on the floor sealed his image as Saddam’s enforcer. Barzan was captured by US special forces in Baghdad in April 2003.
His home near Ramadi, which was also an operations centre for the intelligence service, had been targeted by US “smart bombs” during the war. He was the five of clubs in a US deck of playing cards representing the most wanted men in Iraq.
As intelligence chief, Barzan was accused of ordering mass murder and torture, and of personally taking part in human rights abuses, including the destruction of Kurdish villages.
Barzan ran Iraq’s intelligence service from 1979 to 1983 but fell out of favour over his hatred for Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel Hassan, who married Saddam’s daughter Raghad. Barzan, who was born in February 1951 in Tikrit, resurfaced as Iraq’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva from 1988 to 1997. One of his roles there was as Iraq’s envoy to the Conference on Disarmament.
“He was deliberately ambiguous. It was all smoke and mirrors,” a former western diplomat in Geneva said this month. The former diplomat recalled Barzan was always dressed in elegant tailored suits.