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Condemned Saddam ex-VP claims torture in US custody

[JURIST] Former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], sentenced to death [JURIST report] in connection with crimes against humanity committed in the town of Dujail in 1982, has alleged in a sworn statement [DOC text, English translation] that US forces in Iraq mistreated him and subjected him to "methods of torture" for three weeks following his arrest in 2003 after he reportedly refused to reveal certain information. Ramadan's defense lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano [Wikipedia profile], recently released the statement, which is dated March 22, 2006 after reportedly receiving it from an unidentified US official in Baghdad by e-mail February 6.

In a statement e-mailed to JURIST Monday, Di Stefano said:

If this is the manner upon which my clients have been treated and indicative of how the US/UK Security Services conduct their interrogations then it is no wonder that there is so much opposition to the United States of America. This matter has been now reported to the UN Human Rights Commissioner but with the military might of the United States the reality is that not much any organization can do to curb these excesses. It is ironic that the civil case in the US District Court of DC against Saddam Hussein et al (including Taha Ramadan and Tariq Aziz) may now save Taha Ramadan's life primarily thanks to the Omar Judgement, will now be used against the United States of America in a new suit which I will file for the same allegations. The continued disrespect for international law by the US/UK will truly indeed make those countries potential targets for those who oppose these methods of interrogations and turn such episodes into motives for attack. Saddam Hussein, Barzan Al Tikriti, Awwad Al Bandar were totally against violence as a means to an end. I know because they said so. But it is becoming more and more difficult to make the Iraqi people understand that Saddam, Barzan and Awwad were against vendetta action. They sought an Iraq governed and run by Iraqi people but not by means of murder. I am grateful to those within the US military that have deemed appropriate in the spirit of full disclosure the delivery to me of documents that should have been in my possession in 2006. Awwad Al Bandar complained to me that he had been promised by the US not to be prosecuted if he would testify against Saddam Hussein. Barzan Al Tikriti had also told me he had been promised nulle proseque if he testified against Saddam Hussein. Tariq Aziz has stated that when interrogated by the US/UK the sole line of interrogation was the relationship that George Galloway MP had with Iraq. I am calling upon the Secretary of Defense in the US to now call for an open and public enquiry into the treatment of those detained since 2003 including releasing the interrogations transcripts of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Al Tikriti, Awwad Al Bandar to ensure open justice. It must be done forthwith."
The Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website; HRW backgrounder] originally sentenced Ramadan to life in prison in the Dujail trial, while Saddam Hussein and two others were sentenced to death [JURIST report] in November. The tribunal last week resentenced Ramadan to death by hanging, however, following a December 26 ruling by the IHT Appeals Chamber in its decision upholding Hussein's death sentence [JURIST report] that the life sentence for Ramadan was too lenient. UN human rights expert Phillip Alston [official profile] argued [JURIST report; press release] last week that Ramadan's trial was unfair and he should not be executed.

Di Stefano has said that he will ask US courts to prevent the US government from handing Ramadan over to Iraqi officials for his execution, relying on the case of suspected Iraqi terrorist Shawqi Omar [JURIST news archive]. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled [PDF text] earlier this month that Omar may argue his case before a US court [JURIST report]. Omar is seeking to block the US military from turning him over to Iraqi custody for trial in Iraqi courts. Bloomberg News has more.

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