December 26, 2006

Old Acquaintance


From CNN: Iraqi appeals court upholds Hussein death sentence.

The Iraqi High Tribunal's appellate chamber on Tuesday upheld Saddam Hussein's death sentence in the Dujail massacre case, Judge Aref Shaheen announced.

Shaheen said the court's decision was the final word in the case.

The toppled Iraqi dictator's execution must take place before January 27, Shaheen said. Iraqi law requires a death sentence to be carried out within 30 days.

On November 5, Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the 1982 killings of 148 people in Dujail, a mostly Shiite town north of Baghdad. Hussein's attorneys appealed, and the appellate chamber began reviewing the case December 5.

Hussein's chief defense attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said he had heard about the decision, but said it came from "an illegitimate and unconstitutional court."

"We are not surprised by this crazy ruling," al-Dulaimi said.

The lawyer, speaking from Amman, Jordan, said three other members of the defense team met with Hussein on Tuesday before the decision was announced and described him as being in high spirits.

Under international law, most governments have the power to stay any executions, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said his government would not do so in Hussein's case.

The White House released a statement praising the court's decision.

"Today marks a milestone for the Iraqi people's efforts to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law," said Scott Stanzel, deputy White House press secretary.

"We look forward to seeing the written judgment. Saddam has received due process and the legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people..."

UPDATE I -- Dec. 27: From CNN: Baathists: 'Grave consequences' if Hussein's hanged.

The Baath Party, the political movement that ruled Iraq during the Saddam Hussein era, is warning there will be "grave consequences" if former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is executed.

Saying it would hold the United States responsible, a message appeared on Tuesday that read: "The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate in all ways and all places that hurt America and its interests if it commits this crime."

If the execution is carried out, the largely Sunni-Arab Baathists said they also will retaliate against members of the Iraqi High Tribunal.

And they vowed a complete shut-down of peace negotiations between the Baathists and coalition forces.

The Baathists have been operating as part of the insurgency against the U.S. and its allies since Hussein's regime fell in 2003.

UPDATE II -- Dec. 29: Looks like Old Man 2006 got to the lever first. From CNN: Hussein executed, Iraqi TV stations report.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets.

Hussein was hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, at about 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), the U.S.-backed Al-Hurra television reported.

Al-Arabiya reported that Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awad Bandar, former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were hanged after Hussein. All three were convicted of killings in the Iraqi town of Dujail nearly 25 years ago.

Earlier, Munir Haddad, a judge on the appeals court that upheld the former dictator's death sentence, and an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki each confirmed the paperwork needed for Hussein's execution had been prepared late Friday.

"All the procedures have been completed," Haddad said.

At the same time, a U.S. district judge refused a request to stay the execution.

Attorney Nicholas Gilman said in an application for a restraining order, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, that a stay would allow Hussein "to be informed of his rights and take whatever action he can and may wish to pursue."

Haddad had called Gilman's filing "rubbish," and said, "It will not delay carrying out the sentence," which he called "final."

Posted by Forkum at December 26, 2006 05:21 PM