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Iraqi prosecutor defends death sentence for Saddam-era defense minister

[JURIST] Iraqi prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon [JURIST news archive] defended the death sentence for convicted Saddam Hussein-era defense minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai [TrialWatch profile] Friday, saying that al-Tai personally oversaw the deaths of 180,000 people during brutal military campaigns against Iraq's Kurds in late 1980's and that his use of chemical weapons and his in-court confession of involvement in the planning of the Anfal Campaign [HRW backgrounder] warranted his execution. His statements in a televised interview on Alhurra TV [media website], were a direct response to both Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile], who have publicly spoken out against al-Tai's planned execution. Al-Faroon argued that although Talabani and his Presidential council are able to pardon those sentenced to die by the Iraqi High Tribunal, this power did not apply to al Tai as a result of his conviction for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

In September Talabani said that al-Tai should receive clemency [JURIST report] because he was only acting under the threat of death from Hussein and had worked with the Kurdish community while he was an official in Hussein's regime. Al-Mashhadani echoed his concerns [JURIST report] Thursday, saying that al-Tai's execution would cause military officers to question their commanders' orders out of fear that they could be held accountable after the governing regime changes. Al-Tai and two other former officials from Saddam Hussein's regime, including Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid - known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali" [BBC profile] - were all convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity [JURIST news archive] in June for their roles in the Anfal Campaign. AP has more.

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