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A legal farce: Iraqi court confirms Saddam Hussein’s death sentence
The confirmation yesterday of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein is the final act in a legal charade directed from Washington. The Iraqi Appeal Court upheld the verdict against Hussein and two of his co-accused—Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar—brought on November 5 for the execution of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail in 1982. With the only avenue of appeal exhausted, all three can be hanged at any time within the next 30 days.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel hailed the court decision, declaring it to be “an important milestone” in efforts “to replace the rule of a tyrant with the rule of law”. In fact, the Bush administration has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for basic legal norms, riding roughshod over international and US law. It has pressed for the execution of Hussein as a means of demonstrating to the world that it is capable of killing its opponents with impunity.
The Appeal Court decision comes as no surprise. From start to finish, the trial of Hussein and senior figures in his Baathist regime has been a piece of political theatre with a preordained outcome. The Bush administration refused to place the former Iraqi strongman before an international tribunal, drew up the flawed rules for the Iraqi High Court and has overseen every aspect of the case via a large team of American lawyers based in the US embassy in Baghdad.
Washington’s Shiite-dominated puppet government in Baghdad has brazenly interferred in the trial, exploiting it to bolster support among its social base. Shortly after the verdict was handed down last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki preempted the outcome of the appeals process, telling the BBC that he expected Hussein to be hanged by the end of the year. Significantly, yesterday’s decision was first announced, not by the Appeal Court, but by a government minister—National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie.
Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, may not be required to approve an appeals court decision upholding Saddam Hussein's death sentence, according to a presidential spokesman.
Hiwa Osman, Talabani's media adviser, said the president is waiting for the court's ruling on whether his ratification is needed.
"Some people believe there is no need for his approval," said Osman.
"We still have to hear from the court as to how the procedure can be carried out."
Earlier, Osman had said the president's approval was not required and that the court's decision was final.
An appeal against Saddam's conviction, for the 1982 killing of 148 people in Dujail, failed on Tuesday. The court upheld the original ruling that the former Iraqi president should be hanged within 30 days.
If presidential approval is not required, Saddam would lose his last legal means of avoiding the death penalty.