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Saddam lawyers reach across Atlantic in last-ditch bids to stop US handover

[JURIST] Lawyers for Saddam Hussein have reached across the Atlantic in last-ditch legal bids to stop US authorities from handing their client over to Iraqi officials for expected execution [JURIST report]. On Wednesday, UK-based Saddam defense lawyer Giovanni di Stefano asked the Washington DC-based Inter-American Human Rights Commission [official website] for urgent interim measures against the US under Rule 25 of its Rules of Procedure [text] to "prevent the transfer of the Applicant into the hands of an authority that has indicated it will execute him after what has been deemed by a number of third party organizations an unfair trial." On Thursday he also asked a US federal court for a temporary restraining order to stop the handover.

Di Stefano told JURIST in an exclusive statement Friday:

While the USA has physical custody of Saddam Hussein et al it is bound by international law. Although the application to the Inter American Human Rights Commission has not received a response, and notwithstanding that an application made yesterday to the United States District Court of Columbia for a Temporary Restraining Order has not been sealed, the appropriate Defendants including President Bush, the Defence Secretary and two Military Commanders who have actual custody of Saddam Hussein have been served with the papers....To violate or circumvent the applications by handing over Saddam Hussein before the Courts can properly evaluate [those] is a potential impeachable offence.

The execution of Saddam Hussein serves no useful purpose. If it occurs - to steal the words of the late Enoch Powell - I predict a river of blood flowing throughout the Middle East which will lead to all corners of the world. Had Saddam Hussein received a fair trial with proper standards and burden of proof and rules of evidence and had he been convicted and then sentenced to death the said river of blood may well only be a small lake. As it is there has been no fair trial and the consequences are that Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death based erroneously. I am however, hopeful that the US Government will understand the risk it takes if it violates the letter and the spirit (a) of its own laws and (b) of international treaties it has signed and President Bush will invariable face justice by a Democratic Congress post January 3rd 2007 if he choses the said course of action whilst the applications are pending.
Read the full text of the IAHRC petition. A preliminary motion filed by Saddam's lawyers in the US District Court for the District of Columbia prior to Thursday's sealed TRO application is here.

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