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Ex-Saddam VP faces Iraq execution

[JURIST] Former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] will be hanged Tuesday, according to Iraqi legal sources quoted by wire services Monday afternoon. The Iraqi government has scheduled the execution despite defense lawyers' contention that the government must wait at least 30 days after sentencing to execute a defendant. Ramadan, found guilty [JURIST report] with Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website] in November for his role in the reprisal killings of 148 Shiites at Dujail, lost [JURIST report] an appeal [text; JURIST report] of his sentence last week. He was originally given a life sentence, but after intervention by the appeals panel the trial court in February ordered the death penalty [JURIST report].

Following the failed appeal Ramadan's Rome-based lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano sent a letter [text] to Gen. David Petraeus [official profile], commanding general of the Multi-National Force Iraq, urging him to intervene and prevent Ramadan's transfer from US to Iraqi custody. Di Stefano has also petitioned [text] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has expressed opposition to the death penalty, to intervene and commute Ramadan's sentence. In an e-mail to JURIST late Monday, Di Stefano, formerly one of lawyers representing Saddam Hussein, said he had already moved to prosecute Saddam trial chief judge Rauf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman [JURIST news archive] in the UK after he was alleged to have sought asylum there, and would "prosecute any and all that have been involved in the execution of my clients."

Last week, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers [official website] Leandro Despouy urged [JURIST report] the Iraqi government not to execute Ramadan because of "grave shortcomings" in his legal process. In February, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Phillip Alston [university profile] also called [JURIST report] on the government to suspend the execution because of judicial misconduct. Reuters has more.

9:32 PM ET - Ramadan lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano issued a statement [text] Monday night saying in part:

I have tonight written a further letter to General Petraeus in Baghdad as well as Dr. Rice at the US State Department and an urgent fax to President Talabani. As a matter of law (which actually is not at all applied in Iraq) no execution can take place without (a) the approval of President Talabani and (b) without President Talabani having ruled on my application to commute the sentence to life imprisonment....

I can also confirm that Taha Ramadan has indeed telephoned and spoke to his family. I last saw him on 8th March 2007 and boy was he firm and strong although I know he had the look of facing death in the eyes. He will die with dignity which is more than can be said for those that are responsible for state-sponsored murder.
9:45 PM ET - Wire service reports say that Taha Yassin Ramadan was hanged before dawn Tuesday Baghdad time, according to an official in the Iraqi prime minister's office. Ramadan is the fourth high-ranking Saddam regime official to have been executed on order of the Iraqi High Tribunal. His hanging is said to have been performed carefully and without incident that might have inflamed new protests by Iraqi Sunnis. AP has more.

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