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Ramadan hanging prompts disavowal, denunciation

[JURIST] The hanging [JURIST report] of Saddam-era Iraqi vice-president Taha Ramadan [JURIST news archive] before dawn Baghdad time Tuesday drew a disavowal from the United States and condemnation from Russia as the international community reacted to an execution that UN officials and rights groups had lobbied intensively against. Bloomberg News quoted a US Embassy spokesman in Baghdad as saying that the hanging, undertaken at a Iraqi Army base at 3 AM local time, was "an Iraqi process and an Iraqi decision with respect to the sentence being carried out." The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement [Itar-Tass report] saying that "acts of such a kind do not help the stabilization of the situation. Only a dialogue of all Iraqi forces can help the establishment of stability in the country." Terry Davis, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the European human rights watchdog organization, said [press release] from Strasbourg:

Executions in Iraq are no longer botched, but they are still inhuman. I regret that the Iraqi authorities have ignored the concerns of the international community and gone ahead with the hanging of Taha Yasin Ramadan, a former Vice-President to Saddam Hussein.... Against the background of the daily bloodbath on the streets of Iraq, the authorities should focus on arresting criminals who are still at large, rather than executing those already in prison. The death penalty is not justice, and state orchestrated killings are not only undermining the credibility and the international reputation of the Iraqi government, but also the prospects for a peaceful and just future for the Iraqi people.
Last week, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Leandro Despouy urged the Iraqi government not to execute Ramadan [JURIST report] because of "grave shortcomings" in his legal process. In February, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston also called on the government to suspend the execution [JURIST report] because Ramadan's trial was flawed. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour had earlier filed [JURIST report] an amicus curiae brief [PDF text] with the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website] arguing that imposing the death penalty on Ramadan would be a violation of Iraq's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text].

Ramadan was found guilty [JURIST report] with Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi High Tribunal in November for his role in the reprisal killings of 148 Shiites at Dujail in 1982. He was originally given a life sentence, but after that was rejected by the IHT appeals panel as too lenient the trial court in February ordered the death penalty [JURIST report]. Ramadan lost a final appeal [JURIST report] of his sentence last week.

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