An Al-Qaeda chief who switched sides and joined US forces to fight his former compatriots has been sentenced to death for killing a young girl in a revenge attack, court officials said Thursday.
Adel Mashhadani headed the Sahwa (Awakening) militia of mostly Sunni former insurgents trained and financed by American and Iraqi forces to combat militants in Fadel, one of Baghdad's oldest districts.
He was "condemned to death" confirmed Abdul Sattar al-Birrakdar, an official from the Baghdad criminal court.
A second court official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sentence was handed down for killing the girl in Fadel, while the
district was under the control of Al-Qaeda linked fighters.
"The (court) inquiry proved that Mashhadani had killed the girl in revenge after her mother publicly asked him to stop killing people in the district," the official said.
The Sahwa, known as the "Sons of Iraq" by the US army, joined American and Iraqi forces to wage war in 2006 and 2007 against Al-Qaeda and its supporters, leading to a dramatic fall in violence across the country.
A de facto amnesty for the Sahwa in 2008 exempted them for crimes against the state but not crimes against the people.
Mashhadani's arrest in March this year provoked fierce street fighting in Fadel between Iraqi forces and militiamen loyal to the Sahwa leader.
Control of the Sahwa passed to Iraqi authorities last October and since January their wages -- said to have been cut from 300 dollars under US leadership, to 100 dollars -- have been paid, often late, from the government.
The Sunni fighters have also been angered that the Shiite-led Baghdad administration has integrated only 20 percent of its estimated 100,000 members into the security forces.