[JURIST] The planned execution [JURIST report] of Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in Western media as "Chemical Ali," has been further delayed while Iraqi lawmakers debate the role of the country's Presidency Council and the scope of the authority of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile], a judicial source said Wednesday. Several members of the council, made up of Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi are believed to have refused to sign the execution order. Although an Iraqi judge said last month that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution, debate continues as to whether council approval is required and if that approval must be unanimous. It is also unknown if al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government can establish a new execution date unilaterally. An Iraqi appeals court upheld al-Majid's death sentence on September 4 and Iraqi law requires executions to take place within 30 days, but the execution was delayed [JURIST reports] so that it would not occur during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Reuters has more.
Another legal issue that has arisen from al-Majid's planned execution is whether anyone in the country has the legal authority to pardon him. On Tuesday, Iraqi Chief Prosecutor al-Anfal Munqidh Al Firaoun told the Italian news wire AKI that the Iraqi constitution forbids the president from modifying the death penalty for the crime of genocide. Al-Majid lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano [legal website] told JURIST Tuesday that since the initial 30-day execution window had expired, Iraqi officials were required to respond to an application for a pardon filed with Talabani and the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] or else the execution would amount to what he called premeditated murder [JURIST comment]. AKI has more.