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Hussein execution could be delayed by appeals process until 2007: Iraqi judge

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] and two co-defendants may not be executed until early 2007 because there is no specific time limit for the appeals process, chief investigative judge Raed Juhi said on Sunday after death sentences were handed down [JURIST report] by the Iraqi High Tribunal in the Dujail crimes against humanity case. Under Article 25 of Statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal [text, PDF], the convicted have the right to appeal in cassation to the Tribunal's nine-judge Appeals Chamber, which may affirm, reverse or revise the decisions of the Trial Chamber. The lodging of appeals must occur within 15 days of the trial decision, as mandated by the Iraqi Code of Criminal Procedure No. 23 of 1971 [text, PDF]. If the defendants do not submit an appeal within 15 days, an automatic review is required within 10 days before the Appeals Chamber in cases where a death sentence or life imprisonment has been given. The appeals review process itself is, however, not time-limited.

Article 27 of the Statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal states that following a final decision, the "penalties shall be enforceable within thirty days of the sentence or decision reaching finality." Article 27 also precludes any authority, including the president of the republic, from pardoning or reducing the penalties issued by the Tribunal. The Guardian has more.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour Sunday urged Iraqi authorities to ensure that the right of appeal of persons convicted and sentenced by the Iraqi High Tribunal be fully respected:

A credible appeals process is an essential part of fair-trial guarantees. This is particularly important in this instance, in which the death penalty has been imposed. Those convicted today should have every opportunity to exhaust their appellate remedies in a fair way, and whatever the outcome of an appeal, I hope the Government will observe a moratorium on executions.
Read the full text of the UNHCHR press release.

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