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Former Saddam trial judge calls execution during Eid illegal under Iraqi law

[JURIST] Rizgar Mohammed Amin [JURIST news archive], the Iraqi Kurdish judge who presided over the Saddam Hussein Dujail trial [JURIST news archive] before resigning [JURIST report] in early 2006 over criticisms of his handling of the case, has said that Hussein's execution [JURIST report] violated Iraqi law banning executions during the Muslim Eid holiday. Sunnis began celebrating the holiday on Saturday, the day Hussein's death sentence [JURIST report] was carried out, but Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie has defended the timing of the execution, saying it took place before daylight, when Eid begins. Amin also said that the execution violated a requirement that executions be carried out 30 days after the appeals judgment on a death sentence is handed down, an assertion which the appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] disagreed with in its December 26 judgment [JURIST report]. The court said that Article 27 of the statute of the Iraqi High Tribunal [PDF text] requires an affirmed death sentence to be carried out within 30 days of the appeals decision. AFP has more.

Meanwhile, CNN reported Tuesday that US officials tried to persuade Iraqi officials to delay Hussein's execution for up to two weeks in order to help combat the impression that the death sentence was carried out in retribution. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki allegedly refused US requests to delay the hanging, instead insisting that the execution be carried out before Eid. US officials are also said to have been concerned with the legal process [JURIST report] leading up to the execution, in particular the status of the constitutional requirement [JURIST report] that a death warrant be approved by Iraq's president and vice-president, which created a problem as President Jalal Talabani, an opponent of the death penalty, refused to sign any warrant himself [JURIST report]. A panel of Iraqi judges ultimately ruled that the constitutional provision was void in the context of the law governing the sentence handed down by the Iraqi High Tribunal, but the process was rushed. CNN has more.

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