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Iraqi tribunal sentences Saddam VP to death

[JURIST] The Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website; HRW backgrounder] sentenced former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] to death by hanging Monday in connection with crimes against humanity committed in the town of Dujail in 1982. Three other defendants in the case were sentenced to 15 years in prison; one was acquitted. Ramadan's case will automatically be appealed to the IHT Appeals Chamber.

In a statement e-mailed to JURIST Monday, Ramadan defense lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano said:

I will now go to [US federal court] to preclude the US Government in handing him over for execution until his civil suit in the US is resolved. In the event the US hands him over prior to such, it may well be the case that those responsible for the decision will answer to the legal consequences in both the civil and criminal courts. It is time that the US ceased playing the part of Pontius Pilate in these matters and exhibited a respect for law and order. It is too late for Saddam Hussein, Barzan Al Tikriti and Awwad Al Bandar but may not be too late for others.
Di Stefano intends to rely on the case of suspected Iraqi terrorist Shawqi Omar [JURIST news archive]. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled last week that Omar may argue his case before a US court [JURIST report]. He is seeking to block the US military from turning him over to Iraqi custody for trial in Iraqi courts.

Ramadan was convicted [JURIST report; BBC verdict summary] in November but the IHT Appeals Chamber ruled December 26 in its decision upholding Saddam Hussein's death sentence [JURIST report; JURIST news archive] that the life sentence for Ramadan was too lenient and ordered the trial court to re-sentence him. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour filed an amicus brief [JURIST report] with the court last week arguing that imposing the death penalty would be a violation of Iraq's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] also urged the IHT Sunday to spare the life of Ramadan [JURIST report], citing a lack of evidence tying him to the Dujail killings. AP has more.

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