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Saddam execution set for dawn in Iraq

[JURIST] Iraqi officials have said that final preparations are underway for the execution by hanging of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] before 6 AM local Baghdad time (10 PM Friday ET). Observers eligible to witness the execution have been told to be in attendance by 5:30 AM local time and are said to be already gathering in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where a gallows has been set up [VOI report], according to al-Hurra satellite TV. Iraqi sources told the Iraqi Voices of Iraq news agency that the decision to go ahead with the hanging before the Eid holiday had been made after a meeting of top officials [VOI report], including "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the ministers of defense, interior, national security, national security adviser Mowafaq al-Rubai’i and U.S. advisors." AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

As of 9 PM ET no ruling on the US handover of Saddam to Iraqi authorities prior to his execution has come from the US federal court in Washington where Saddam's lawyers had sought an eleventh-hour temporary restraining order [JURIST report] to stop the transfer and execution. The US Department of Justice has argued in court papers that Saddam and his co-defendants eligible for handover are not subject to US federal court jurisdiction, but rather are aliens under the jurisdiction of foreign courts. AP has more.

9:07 PM ET - AP is reporting that a US federal judge has refused to block Saddam's handover to Iraqi authorities. US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled after a telephone conference with lawyers that "Petitioner Hussein's application for immediate, temporary stay of execution is denied." Earlier Friday evening, the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stop the US handover of Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of Saddam's Revolutionary Court, also scheduled for execution. AP has more.

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