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Iraq cabinet urges presidency council to ratify Saddam officials' death sentences

[JURIST] The Iraqi Cabinet [official website, in Arabic] urged the Presidency Council [official website, in Arabic] Tuesday to ratify death sentences against three former Saddam Hussein officials. The sentences have been delayed because two of the members, President Jalal Talabani and Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, have opposed the sentences [AP report] of Hashim al-Taie and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, alleging that both men's roles in the 1988 Anfal campaign against ethnic Kurds [HRW backgrounder] were coerced on threats of death by Saddam Hussein. In accordance with Iraqi law, all three members of the Iraqi Presidential Council must approve the measures. The death sentences and convictions of al-Taie, Mohammed, and Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" [JURIST news archive], were upheld [JURIST report] by the Appeals Chamber of the Iraqi High Tribunal in September 2007 on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in connection to the 1988 Anfal campaign.

"Chemical Ali" has received two other death sentences in connection with the killings of rioting protesters [JURIST report] in Baghdad and Amarah following the alleged assassination of a prominent Shiite cleric, and for his involvement in the repression of Shiite protesters [JURIST report] in southern Iraq following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Earlier this month, he was also sentenced to fifteen years [JURIST report] for his involvement in the 1992 murders of 42 merchants accused of price-gouging during a period of UN-imposed sanctions. Earlier this week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Iraq to commute the 128 death sentences [AI report] that have ratified and to reinstate a death penalty moratorium, alleging that "Iraqi trials do not always conform to international fair trial standards."

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