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Iraq tribunal upholds death penalty for Saddam VP as lawyer petitions US general

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website] on Thursday upheld the death penalty for former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], rejecting his appeal [DOC text; JURIST report] of the sentence handed down in the Saddam Hussein Dujail crimes against humanity trial. Ramadan was convicted [JURIST report; BBC verdict summary] by the IHT alongside Saddam Hussein in November and originally sentenced to life in prison. The IHT Appeals Chamber later deemed the sentence too lenient and ordered the death penalty for Ramadan. IHT Judge Mounir Haddad said Thursday that a nine-judge panel had decided unanimously to uphold Ramadan's death sentence. The Iraqi government must now set a date for Ramadan's hanging. AP has more.

Ramadan defense lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano has sent a letter [DOC text] to Gen. David Petraeus [official profile], commanding general of the Multi-National Force - Iraq, urging Petraeus to intervene and prevent Ramadan's transfer from US to Iraqi custody. Di Stefano called on Petraeus to transfer Ramadan to a US prison rather than turn him over to Iraqi forces. Di Stefano argued that the US military can apply "natural justice" under principles of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials]:

However, where the Courts may lack legal jurisdiction the obligation of any MNTF is to ensure that natural justice prevails. If any officer, commander, military accepts an order knowing reasonable that such order may violate (a) domestic law (b) international law and (c) natural justice then the same may be held liable and answer to the Courts. It is our belief however, that the current known legislation permits you as Commander of the MNTF in Iraq to refuse the handing over to the Iraqi Government our client for execution under the specific circumstance namely:

(a) Our client was originally sentenced to life imprisonment, (b) The Appeal Court deemed the said sentence lenient and referred the matter back to the Trial Court, (c) The Trial Court consisting of a differently composed Court substituted life imprisonment to that of sentence of death, (d) The Appeal Court within 36 hours of receiving our 28 page appeal and with hearing oral argument dismissed our appeal announcing such not by handed down a reasoned judgement but by press conference.

In our view any one single event as above would be sufficient for the MNTF to intervene and refuse to hand over our client for execution whilst and it follows that the summation of all compounded together must lead you, as the Commander of the said Force, into the invocation of the principles of the Geneva Convention.
Ramadan's lawyers have unsuccessfully sought habeas relief [JURIST report] in US courts seeking to prevent Ramadan from being transferred from US to Iraqi custody. Di Stefano has also petitioned [DOC text] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to intervene and commute Ramadan's sentence. Talabani has said he personally opposes the death penalty.

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