Iraq court condemns militant for beheading Japanese tourist

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi central criminal court sentenced Hussein Fahmi to death Wednesday for killing Japanese backpacker Shosei Koda in October 2004.

Fahmi, a 26-year-old member of al-Qaida’s Iraq wing once led by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was found guilty of the murder of the 24-year-old Japanese. Al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June,

Foreign Ministry official Yoshihiro Yamamura said the government was still trying to confirm the ruling.

Fahmi told Kyodo News after his arrest that he was told to kill people from the countries that had sent troops to Iraq.

He is suspected of having been involved in 72 other crimes, including a bomb attack that killed 18 Iraqis, and has been charged in some of the offenses, according to a preliminary judge at the court.

Koda arrived by bus in Baghdad on Oct. 21, 2004, and five days later, the militant group posted footage of him on the Internet, demanding that the Self-Defense Forces leave Iraq.

The group posted a gruesome video of the killing on the Internet on Nov. 2 along with its claim of responsibility.

Koda’s decapitated body was found wrapped in an American flag in a Baghdad street on Oct. 30.

Fahmi, who is of Egyptian and Palestinian descent, was captured by the Interior Ministry’s counterinsurgency Wolf Brigade after a tip from locals.

In March, Fahmi confessed he had participated in the murder.

Tokyo withdrew Ground Self-Defense Force troops in July, after a new Iraqi government was installed. Japan has since expanded its Kuwait-based Air Self-Defense Force operations to ferry U.N. and coalition personnel and supplies to Iraq.