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Unruly Saddam hanging prompts Sunni protests, American anger

[JURIST] The unruly nature of the weekend hanging of Saddam Hussein [JURIST report] as especially revealed by a grainy but graphic camera phone video [JURIST report] taken at the scene prompted protest and disavowal Monday as Sunnis condemned the treatment of the ousted Iraqi president and angry American officials in Iraq sought to distance themselves from events as they actually unfolded. In Amman, Jordan, hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a memorial rally addressed by Raghad Hussein, Saddam's eldest daughter who had orchestrated her father's legal defense and who called him a "martyr" as Saddam loyalists decried the execution as "government by revenge." In Damascus, Syrian Information Minister Mosen Bilal, whose government is dominated by another branch of the Baath Party that ruled Iraq under Saddam, said "[t]he terrifying images of the execution of Saddam Hussein are a violation of the most basic principles and international agreements" and expressed dismay that the execution was carried out on the first day of the Muslim Eid holiday. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.

Meanwhile the New York Times cited anonymous American officials as being "privately incensed" at how Saddam's hanging had been rushed forward in the dead of night early Saturday local time at the insistence of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top officials. The US officials indicated that they had been concerned with the legal process 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. American officials also told the Times they had been concerned about the timing of the execution at the beginning of the Eid holiday. The Times said that although the Americans had acknowledged that the execution of Saddam was an Iraqi matter, their reticence about the whole process was only heightened by the eventual video revelations of the confused and undignified manner in which it was finally conducted. The New York Times has more.

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