[JURIST] The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will refuse to execute Ali Hassan al-Mahid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali," over the Iraqi Presidency Council's decision not to approve the death sentences of al-Mahid's two co-defendants, an Iraqi government spokesperson told AP Wednesday. The Presidency Council approved al-Mahid's execution [JURIST report] last week, but refused to approve the executions of former deputy head of army operations Hussein Rashid Mohammed and former defense minister Sultan Hashim al-Taie, prompting criticism [JURIST report] that the Presidency Council was acting outside its authority by attempting to reduce Mohammed and al-Taie's sentences. The spokesperson said that the Iraqi government would refuse to take custody of al-Mahid from US forces currently holding him until the Presidency Council reverses its position on the other two sentences.
All three were sentenced to death [JURIST report] last year by the Iraqi High Tribunal [official website] for their roles in the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds during the Anfal campaign [HRW backgrounder] of 1988. The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] in September. Under Iraqi law, the executions were supposed to have taken place 30 days after the men were sentenced, meaning that the men should have been executed no later than October 4. Iraq's Presidency Council nonetheless refused to sign any execution order [JURIST report] until reversing its position last week. AP has more.