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US transports 'Chemical Ali' to Iraq gallows site: NYT

[JURIST] US authorities have delivered Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in Western media as "Chemical Ali," to a location near a prison gallows in Baghdad where he is expected to be transferred into Iraqi custody to be executed, an Iraqi police official said Wednesday. Al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam Hussein, was sentenced to death [JURIST report] by the Iraqi High Tribunal in June on genocide and war crimes charges, and the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentence [JURIST report] in September. Iraqi law requires executions to take place within 30 days, but the execution was delayed [JURIST report] so that it would not occur during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The New York Times has more.

Al-Majid's planned execution has prompted several other legal issues. It was reported Wednesday that several members of Iraq's Presidency Council, which includes Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, have refused to sign the execution order [JURIST report]. Although an Iraqi judge said last month that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution, it is unknown whether al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government can establish a new execution date without the approval of the Presidency Council. In addition, it is unclear whether anyone has legal authority to pardon him. 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 or else the execution would amount to what he called premeditated murder [JURIST comment].

1:51 PM ET - In a statement to JURIST, al-Majid defense lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano has said that as of Thursday morning (ET), al-Majid was still being held in Camp Cropper.

3:13 PM ET - An Iraqi government spokesperson said Thursday that he expects al-Majid's execution to be carried out "in the coming days." AFP has more.

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