[JURIST] Defense lawyers for former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] have filed an appeal [DOC text; addendum, DOC] with the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) [official website], asking the court to overturn Ramadan's death sentence [JURIST report]. 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.
Among other grounds of appeal, Ramadan's counsel said that
There is a perception of political and other forms of interference in the process at both the Trial and Appellate levels which calls into doubt the proper application of justice where the sentencing of Mr Taha Yaseen Ramadan is concerned. In the event that the sentence of death by hanging is permitted to stand on appeal, which we would submit must not occur on the merits, the capacity of the Tribunal as a whole to deliver impartial justice is likely to be questioned still more widely than it is already the case.Ramadan's lawyers have also submitted a commutation application [DOC text] to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] asking Talabani to commute Ramadan's sentence to life imprisonment.
In a statement e-mailed to JURIST Tuesday, Ramadan defense lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano said:
Whatever is decided by the Appeal Court in Baghdad (which incidentally is the same Appeal Court that without solicitation of the Prosecutor referred the sentence of life imprisonment back to the Trial Court) I hope that President Talabani will use the powers vested in him to intervene under these circumstances. We have seen the aftermath of the three executions and the ICC has opened an investigation pursuant to my request dated 16th January 2007 into the executions. If Iraq is to heal then in any healing process any bleeding must be stopped. It is why this execution must be halted to avoid further spillage of blood. President Talabani has now to decide which path he prefers to take Iraq and any reconciliation must commence with the commutation of any death sentence.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.
UN Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions Phillip Alston last month said Ramadan's trial was flawed [JURIST report] and the former VP should not be executed. Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice urged the IHT appeals chamber to reverse Ramadan's death sentence [press release], noting "serious flaws" in his trial.