Saddam defense team seeks last-minute delay of Dujail verdict

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein's defense team asked the Iraqi High Tribunal Friday to delay its now-expected Sunday verdict in the Dujail crimes against humanity case [JURIST news archive; BBC timeline] against the ousted Iraqi leader, saying in a letter obtained by AP that it needed more time to make final arguments. The verdict has already been postponed [JURIST report] from an anticipated October date to give the court more time to review evidence and complete its findings. If convicted, Hussein could face the death penalty. AP has more.

Hussein is charged [charging instrument, PDF] with killing, torturing and illegally detaining Dujail residents, including 148 Shiites [JURIST report], after an unsuccessful attempt on his life there in 1982. Members of Hussein's defense team, including chief defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, have repeatedly warned against his execution, citing the likelihood of escalating violence and civil war in Iraq [JURIST report]. Security across the country has already been heightened in anticipation of a guilty verdict, with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordering a strict curfew, traffic bans and new checkpoints. AP has more. On Friday Iraq's defense minister canceled leave for Iraqi soldiers [JURIST report] and summoned all military personnel currently on leave to return to duty.

3:25 PM ET - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told reporters in Baghdad Saturday that Hussein's sentencing was still scheduled to go ahead [press release in Arabic, DOC] on Sunday and that he hoped "this man will get the verdict he deserves for what he committed against the Iraqi people." He said that after the verdict "The Iraqi people will express their happiness in a way they see fit and we will call on the Iraqi people through a broadcast statement to remain calm and express their happiness in an appropriate way in this current situation, in a way that does not risk their lives." AP has more. VOI has local coverage; AINA has more.

 

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