[JURIST] Recently elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] said Monday that he would refuse to sign a death conviction for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein if he is convicted of war crimes. During a BBC television interview [recorded video] Talabani, a lawyer, said he was opposed to the death penalty as a matter of principle and said he might withdraw from consideration of the issue and let it be decided by the two vice-presidents, if it even arises while he is in office. Talabani is only in office to oversee the drafting of a new constitution, after which there will be new national elections late this year according the the new constitution's provisions. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of the Iraq Special Tribunal [JURIST news archive]. Reuters has more.
10:18 AM ET – Responding to Talabani's interview, a spokesman for the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, the largest political grouping in the Iraqi National Assembly, said every member of his party believed that Saddam should get the death penalty if found guilty of crimes against the Iraqi people and that Talabani should resign if he is not willing to sign an execution order. AP has more.