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umented in US-run prisons—most notoriously at the Abu Ghraib deten-tion centre near Baghdad. Yet it was difficult for Iraqis to gain redress for injuries suffered at the hands of Coalition forces and private security con-tractors, of whom there were large numbers in Iraq, because both groups were declared immune from prosecution under Iraqi law and subject only to the domestic law of their own country. These practices reinforced the impression that the Coalition had little interest in obedience to the rule of law (Ehrenberg et al.2010: 403–55; Herring & Rangwala 2006: 186–203). The CPA’s efforts to prosecute those accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity under Ba’athist rule were also flawed. Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, joining nearly forty other senior figures from his regime in Coalition custody. To try them, the CPA created the Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad. The court was modelled on existing UN war crimes tribunals and assisted by international experts, but with Iraqi leadership and significant elements of Iraqi legal procedure and tra-dition. Internationally, the court was dismissed by many countries and NGOs as an attempt to legitimise an invasion they considered unlawful. This limited the international assistance it received, while its creation by the CPA harmed its domestic legitimacy. The proceedings were affected by the security situation in Iraq; witness protection efforts often hindered adequate preparation by the defence lawyers, three of whom were mur-dered. Saddam was convicted in November 2006 and sentenced to death for his role in a massacre of Shi’a villagers in 1982. His conviction made little contribution to peace and reconciliation in Iraq in the short term: many Iraqis doubted that he had received a fair trial, a perception that was reinforced when Saddam’s execution by Shi’a militiamen in December resembled a sectarian revenge-lynching (Scharf 2007; Sissons 2006).
the iraq war 149The shambolic enactment of Saddam’s death sentence reflected and fuelled a violent fragmentation of the state along sectarian lines that had begun in late 2003 (Herring & Rangwala 2006: 147–59). The Sunni minor-ity feared the consequences of a Shi’a dominated state and resented their marginalisation under the CPA, which viewed them as tainted by connec-tion with the old regime. Sunni extremists, often linked to AQM, began to bomb Shi’a neighbourhoods and mosques, provoking reprisals by Shi’a militia. A vicious circle of atrocities hastened the militarisation of Iraqi society as neighbourhoods organised armed vigilante groups to protect themselves (Hashim 2009: 55–9; Tripp 2007: 287–8). Sectarian violence steadily increased through 2004 and 2005, reaching a peak in February 2006 when insurgents destroyed the al-Askariyya mosque—one of Shi’a Islam’s most important shrines. Sunni mosques throughout the country were attacked in retaliation by Shi’a militia groups: the fighting grew so intense in Baghdad that twelve thousand US and Iraqi troops had to be deployed (Hughes 2010: 167).