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Iraqi radio host gunned down in Baghdad

Friday 09 Sep 2011
Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mehdi, who has been a prominent critic of the government on his radio programme, was shot dead in Baghdad yesterday, a security official and a medic said.

“Hadi al-Mehdi was shot dead in an apartment on Abu Nawas street at about 6:30 p.m.,” an interior ministry official told AFP, adding that a silencer was used in the shooting.

A medical source at Ibn al-Nafis hospital in central Baghdad confirmed that Mr Mehdi had been killed.

“We received the body of Hadi al-Mehdi, who died from a single gunshot to the head,” the source told AFP.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a statement saying it “strongly condemns the assassination of Hadi al-Mehdi”.

RSF noted that his murder came ahead of nationwide demonstrations planned for Friday, which Mehdi was known to support, and said that “the assassination was undoubtedly politically motivated”.

Mr Mehdi was well-known for his sharp critiques of government ineptitude and corruption on his show on Demozee radio, and was also a playwright.

Mr Mehdi was one of four Iraqi journalists detained by security forces following a protest in Baghdad in February.

He described the conditions of his detention as “brutal and inhuman”, saying soldiers bundled him into the boot of a Humvee, tore off his shirt to blindfold him, subjected him to electrical shock treatment and repeatedly insulted him during interrogations.