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Opposition Says Iraq Executed 81

January 7, 1999

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Iraq has executed 81 political detainees in a prison near Baghdad, including army officers accused in a plot to kill Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi opposition group said Thursday.

The London-based Center for Human Rights said the executions took place in Abu Ghraib prison just before the Dec. 16-19 airstrikes on Iraq by American and British forces.

Iraq refuses to comment on such charges, and there is no way to get independent confirmation.

Among those killed were 18 army officers, four of whom reportedly were convicted of conspiracy to assassinate the Iraqi president, the group said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo.

The others were ``convicted on political or security-related charges in sham trials,″ the statement said.

The center provided a list of names of the prisoners it said were killed. It said the bodies of 15 of the victims were returned to their families with a warning not to conduct any public mourning.

The officers included captains, majors, lieutenants and corporals, the list indicated.

The center, which is linked to the Iraqi Communist Party, said it got its information from sources inside Iraq.

The center and another Iraqi opposition group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, previously have said that a number of senior army officers were executed at military camps during the December airstrikes. The allegations against the men were not known.

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