Iraq has 835 people waiting to be executed, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said Monday, just days after the UN envoy to Baghdad called on the country to abolish capital punishment.
Speaking at a news conference about anti-terrorism measures, Bolani said Iraqi courts had convicted 14,500 people for such offences, with an unspecified number serving life sentences in addition to those due to be executed.
"The government is keen on providing justice," he said, noting "14,500 criminals have been convicted, with 835 receiving death sentences and others life imprisonment."
Iraq executed 230 people from 2005 to 2009, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in July, adding that, at the time, 1,254 death sentences had been handed down.
Bolani's remarks came after UN envoy Ad Melkert called on the Iraqi government to abolish the death penalty, in a speech marking International Human Rights Day on Friday.
"On this day we would like to reiterate our universal call to refrain from carrying out the death penalty and would encourage Iraq to consider banning this instrument as a fundamental feature of applying justice in a new Iraq," he said, according to a transcript of his speech.
Baghdad reintroduced the death penalty in 2004, after a brief moratorium immediately after the US-led invasion of 2003. Those sentenced to death are usually hanged.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is an ardent supporter of capital punishment, but President Jalal Talabani opposes its use.