9 August, Baghdad: An Iraqi court on Tuesday sentenced 40 defendants to death over charges of killing 1,700 soldiers when IS militants seized Tikrit in June 2014, judicial spokesman said.

“The Central Criminal Court issued a verdict to execute 27 defendants after proving they were involved in Speicher massacre,” said Abdul Sattar al-Biraqdar, spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council.

The defendants were found guilty as the evidences were enough for their conviction, Biraqdar said, adding that the court also released 25 other defendants for lack of evidences.

Biraqdar said that the death sentences are preliminary and subject to reviewing by the Court of Cassation.

In June 2014, armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by IS group, an al-Qaida offshoot, launched a surprise offensive on Iraqi security forces and captured a large part of the country’s northern and western territories after government troops abandoned their posts and military equipment.

Reports said that among the dozens of thousands of soldiers who abandoned their posts in June, some 1,700 soldiers who walked out of an air base, known as Camp Speicher north of Tikrit, the capital of Salahudin province, were abducted and killed by the extremist IS militants.

The IS group later posted video tapes and images showing its gunmen loading dozens of soldiers in many trucks and forced them to lay on their faces and opened fire on them.

Some were shown dragged to the edge of the Tigris River and threw them into the water after putting a shot in their heads. Xinhua