[JURIST] Iraq's President Jalal Talabani [Wikipedia profile] on Wednesday authorized death sentences for three Iraqi men convicted of murder, paving the way for the first legal executions in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Talabani, who has opposed capital punishment in the past [JURIST report], said he had instructed Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi to approve the hangings. The three unidentified Iraqis involved are believed to have been convicted by a court in the Shiite city of Kut [Wikipedia backgrounder] of killing three police officers. During US occupation capital punishment was suspended [CPA Order Number 7, June 2003; PDF], but since the formal end of the occupation in June 2004, the death penalty has been reinstated [JURIST report]. AP has more.