Tue, Nov 07, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Saddam faces quick hanging if appeal fails

NO PARDONS There is no set period for the appeal panel's deliberations but if it upholds the verdict, Iraqi law requires the sentence to be carried out in 30 days


Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's execution may be delayed until next year to allow for the appeals process, but once that has been exhausted and if the sentence is upheld, he will be hanged within 30 days.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said he will refuse to sign a death penalty, but would delegate that job to one of his deputies.

Under previous Iraqi law, the president had the authority to commute a death sentence, but a special law established for the tribunal which heard Saddam's case says "no authority, including the president of the republic, may grant a pardon or mitigate the punishment issued by the court."

Before any sentence is carried out, the convicted men and the prosecution can lodge an appeal against the verdict, the notification of which must be made within 15 days.

Saddam's legal team gave notice of their intention to appeal immediately following Sunday's verdict. They said they would launch their appeal yesterday.


A nine-member appeals panel will consider the application's merits according to whether there have been any errors of law, procedure or fact. Submission of briefs and oral arguments will be allowed.

Punishments must be carried within 30 days of the date when the judgment becomes final. But court officials say the appeals chamber may not issue its decision until next spring.

During the trial, Saddam had demanded that he face a firing squad.

"Saddam Hussein is a military commander and should be shot by bullets," he said.

But officials at the Iraqi High Tribunal say he is being tried as a civilian, and under the law that means he faces hanging.

Paragraph 86 of the Iraqi penal code says: "The death penalty is the hanging of the condemned person by the neck until he is dead."

The judge who presided over the first half of the Dujail trial, Rizgar Amin, said any executions would probably be carried out in prison.

"There must be a prosecutor, a judge, a doctor, the prison director and a representative of the interior ministry present," Amin said. "The condemned can also ask a member of the clergy to attend."


The prison authorities are also required to inform the relatives of the condemned person so that they can visit on the day before execution which cannot be carried out on an official or religious holiday.

The condemned person has the right to a final statement, which the judge must record.

Once sentence has been carried out the body is either given to relatives, or buried by the prison authorities at government expense, but with no funeral ceremony.

Saddam and six other former Baath party officials, including Ali Hassan al-Majid or "Chemical Ali," also face genocide charges over the killing of at least 50,000 people during the Anfal operation against the Kurds in 1988.

Dujail was chosen as the first and most straightforward of a dozen dossiers being prepared for trial by the Iraqi High Yribunal.

They include the gassing of Kurds in Halabja -- both of which occurred during the last stages of the Iran-Iraq war, when the UK and the US were supporting the Saddam regime, the invasion and occupation of Kuwait and the suppression of the 1991 Shiite uprising.

It remains unclear whether any of the outstanding cases will make it to court, or whether Saddam will be around to see them.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi told reporters that the Anfal trial now in progress for Saddam and others alleged role in gassing and killing Kurds would continue while the Dujail appeals process is under way.

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