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Hanging of Saddam co-defendants delayed after 'international pressure'

[JURIST] The executions of two Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] co-defendants, former chief judge of Iraq's Hussein-era Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar [Wikipedia profile] and former Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al Tikriti [GlobalSecurity profile; BBC profile], have been postponed. The hangings were originally expected Thursday [JURIST report], but an official in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office said the delay was the result of "international pressure." It is now unclear when the hangings will be carried out; one Iraqi lawmaker has predicted that al-Bandar and al-Tikriti will be executed Sunday [Reuters report]. Another lawmaker has suggested that the hangings will be delayed until there is a final decision from the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] on the sentence of former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile]. In the appeals chamber's December 26 decision upholding Hussein's death sentence [JURIST report], the court accepted the prosecution's argument that a life sentence for Ramadan was too lenient and ordered the trial court to re-sentence him. AFP has more.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] has urged Iraq not to execute al-Bandar and al-Tikriti [UN News report], who were convicted and sentenced to death [JURIST report; BBC verdict summary] in November alongside Hussein for crimes against humanity committed in the village of Dujail in 1982. According to a statement [text] from Arbour's office:

On 28 December 2006, alongside the confirmation of the death sentence of Saddam Hussein, the death sentences of two other co-defendants, Awad Hamad Al-Bandar and Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan, were also upheld on appeal. "International law, as it currently stands, only allows the imposition of the death penalty as an exceptional measure within rigorous legal constraints. The concerns that I expressed just days ago with respect to the fairness and impartiality of Saddam Hussein's trial apply also to these two defendants", the High Commissioner said. "I have therefore today directly appealed to the President of the Republic of Iraq to refrain from carrying out these sentences."

The High Commissioner also noted that under Iraq's international obligations, it is bound to afford Awad Hamad Al-Bandar and Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan the opportunity to seek commutation or pardon of the sentence.
New UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] has backed Arbour's call for restraint [spokesman statement], but a senior Iraqi government official told BBC News that Iraqi law does not permit death sentences to be commuted [BBC report] and that the international community would not succeed in pressuring Iraq not to carry out the sentences.

In a statement provided to JURIST Thursday, Curtis Doebbler, an American lawyer representing al-Bandar, called for continued international action to stop the hangings:
...as we have exhausted all legal avenues both internationally and in the US without any response....

As you know every independent expert who has reviewed the Dujail trial before the Iraqi Special Tribunal has found it to be seriously flawed and unfair. An execution after an unfair trial--even in a country that has the death penalty--is illegal as a summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary execution and torture, cruel or inhumane treatment or punishment.

Although the chances of stopping these executions is very slim we owe it to each of these gentlemen, to our commitment to the rule of law and justice, and to the value of justice for all Iraqis to do everything we can in the next few days to stop these unlawful executions.

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