The gruesome decapitation of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's half brother and Saddam's own undignified hanging have prompted renewed calls to abolish the death penalty worldwide as critics blamed the executions for fanning hatred in the Middle East.
Governments in the European Union, which has outlawed capital punishment, reiterated their opposition to the death penalty but did not comment on the manner of Monday's executions in Iraq of Saddam's half brother Barzan Ibrahim and former Revolutionary Court chief Awad al-Bandar.
Ibrahim plunged through the trap door and was beheaded by the jerk of the thick rope at the end of his fall.
The Iraqi government said the decapitation was an accident.
Saddam's Dec. 30 execution drew international outrage after a clandestine video showed the former president being taunted on the gallows. A second leaked video showed Saddam's corpse with a gaping neck wound.
A few hours after Ibrahim and al-Bandar were executed, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Italian Premier Romano Prodi condemned the hangings.
"Our position, born out of principle, is against the death penalty," Barroso said in Rome.
"It's an issue of values. We consider that no man has the right to take the life of another man," he said.
Italy has been leading a diplomatic drive since Saddam's execution to have the UN General Assembly discuss a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.
On Tuesday, US President George W. Bush said Saddam's execution looked like "kind of a revenge killing" and showed that the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "has still got some maturation to do."
"I was disappointed and felt like they fumbled the ... particularly the Saddam Hussein execution," Bush said.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "We were disappointed there was not greater dignity given to the accused under these circumstances," she told reporters in Egypt.
Portugal's Justice Minister Alberto Costa said an international conference against the death penalty his country is hosting in October as part of an EU drive for a worldwide ban on capital punishment has been "lent greater importance" by the executions in Iraq.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around