Hangings of Saddam co-defendants slated 'this week' as Iraq rejects UN call for halt

[JURIST] An Iraqi government spokesman said Sunday that the execution orders for two of Saddam Hussein's 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 signed and will be carried out "this week" after final "technical preparations" are made. Ali al-Dabbagh said there was no option even in the face of a last appeal Saturday by new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who released a statement [text] "strongly [urging] the Government of Iraq to grant a stay of execution to those whose death sentences may be carried out in the near future." A letter from UN Under-Secretary-General Vijay Nambiar [official profile] to Iraq's UN ambassador reiterated Ban's endorsement of earlier calls for restraint [text] made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile]. Earlier this month Ban raised eyebrows when he appeared to diverge from official UN policy by saying in response to a query on the Saddam Hussein hanging that "the issue of capital punishment is for each and every member state to decide." Ban's spokesperson later described the statement as "his own nuance" on the death penalty and indicated that there was no change in the UN official policy. AFP has more. UN News Centre has additional coverage.

Bandar and Tikriti were convicted of crimes against humanity committed in the Iraqi town of Dujail [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline] in 1982 and were given death sentences [JURIST report] upheld December 26 in a ruling [JURIST report] by the appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website]. The governing statute of the tribunal says that executions are to be carried out within 30 days of final appeal. Issam Ghazawi, the lawyer for the co-defendants, told AP Sunday that the two were initially told that they were to be executed on the day of Hussein's execution, and that they were to write out their wills. Ghazawi claims that the co-defendants were returned to their cells after nearly nine hours of waiting, and said that the defendants' executions "should be commuted under such circumstances because of the psychological pain they endured as they waited to hang." AP has more.

 

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