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Iraqi appeals court upholds Saddam death sentence

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] has affirmed Saddam Hussein's death sentence [JURIST report] for crimes against humanity committed in the Iraqi town of Dujail [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] in 1982. A spokesperson for the court said Tuesday that the decision still had to be ratified by President Jalal Talabani [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] and Vice Presidents Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Tariq Al-Hashimi before an execution could be carried out, but noted that if the leaders do not ratify the decision "we'll implement the verdict by the power of the law." Talabani has repeatedly said he is personally opposed to the death penalty and will not sign a death warrant [JURIST report], but he has delegated his signing authority to the Shiite vice-president, who will join with his Kurdish counterpart to make the warrant legally binding for all three. According to Article 27 of the statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal [text, PDF], once the death sentence is affirmed it must be carried out within 30 days.

Hussein was sentenced to death by the trial court on November 5. He and six co-defendants are currently standing trial on additional genocide charges in connection with attacks against Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns [HRW backgrounder]. Last week, two of Saddam's co-defendants denied using chemical weapons [JURIST report] against Kurds, insisting that any action taken was by order of their superiors. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

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