#1Dec 26th, 2006
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's highest appeals court upheld the death sentence for Saddam Hussein, Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday.
"The appeals court approved the verdict to hang Saddam," the official, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, told The Associated Press. On Nov. 5, an Iraqi court sentenced Saddam to the gallows for the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town after an attempt on his life there.
The decision of the appeals court must be ratified by President Jalal Talabani and Iraq's two vice-presidents. Talabani opposes the death penalty but has, in the past, deputized a vice-president to sign an execution order on his behalf, a substitute that has been legally accepted.
Once those steps have been taken, Saddam and the others would be hanged within 30 days.
Raed Juhi, a spokesman for the High Tribunal court that convicted Saddam, said the Iraqi judicial system would ensure that Saddam is executed even if Talabani and the two vice-presidents do not ratify the decision.
"We'll implement the verdict by the power of the law," Juhi said without elaborating.
The appeals court was expected to announce its decision at a news conference later Tuesday.
An official on the High Tribunal court said the appeals court also upheld death sentences for Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and intelligence chief during the Dujail killings, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, which issued the death sentences against the Dujail residents.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said the appeals court had concluded that the sentence of life imprisonment for former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan was too lenient, and it returned his file to the High Tribunal. Ramadan had been convicted of premeditated murder in the Dujail case.
The High Tribunal official said the appeals court demanded the death penalty for Ramadan in a letter to the High Tribunal.
The official said the High Tribunal had received a copy of the appeals court's decision upholding the death sentence for Saddam.
Saddam said those who were killed had been found guilty in a legitimate Iraqi court for trying to assassinate him in 1982.
Televised, the trial was watched throughout Iraq and the Middle East as much for theatre as for substance. Saddam was ejected from the courtroom repeatedly for his political harangues, and his half-brother and co-defendant, Ibrahim, once showed up in long underwear and sat with his back to the judges.
The nine-month trial had inflamed the country, and three defence lawyers and a witness were murdered in the course of its 39 sessions.
Saddam is also on trial on genocide charges for his crackdown against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s in the so-called Anfal case. The trial was adjourned to Jan. 8. It was unclear how the appeals court ruling on Tuesday would affect proceedings in the Anfal trial, which includes defendants who were not involved in the Dujail trial.
Saddam was found hiding with an unfired pistol in a hole in the ground near his home village north of Baghdad in December 2003, eight months after he fled the capital ahead of advancing American troops.
Copyright © 2006 Canadian Press