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Prosecutor says Saddam cannot rely on later trials to delay hanging

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] could be put to death by hanging within months if he's convicted in his first trial, according to the chief prosecutor for the Iraqi High Criminal Court, formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website]. In an interview reported in the London Sunday Times, Ja'afar Moussawi said that a new Iraqi law mandates that death sentences be carried out within 30 days of an appeal failing, regardless if other charges are still pending against an accused. Moussawi estimated that the current trial has "passed the 75% mark" and indicated that an appeals panel of nine judges has already been assembled. A possible execution of Hussein at the end of his first trial could leave unanswered questions, however, and might disappoint Iraqis seeking justice for other crimes of the Saddam regime.

Since Tuesday, Saddam has supposedly been on hunger strike [JURIST report] in protest at the way newly appointed [JURIST news archive] chief judge Ra'uf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] has been treating Hussein and his co-defendants, facing charges of murder, torture, forced expulsions and illegal imprisonment stemming from a 1982 massacre in Dujail [JURIST report]. Trial proceedings have now been adjourned until February 28. The Times has more.

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