Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
More to the gallows
From the BBC:
No amount of international pressure can stop the execution of two men sentenced to death alongside Saddam Hussein, a top Iraqi official has said.
Sami al-Askari told the BBC the law did not allow for death sentences to be commuted, even by the president.

No date has been announced for the execution of Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and former chief judge Awad al-Bandar.

The United Nations has urged the Iraqi government not to execute them.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she had appealed directly to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, saying her concerns about the fairness of Saddam Hussein's trial also applied to his co-defendants.

Under international law the men should have the chance to seek a pardon or have their sentences commuted, she said.

But Mr Askari told the BBC's Arabic service: "Nobody can stop the carrying out of court verdicts. The court's statute does not allow even the president of the republic or the prime minister to commute sentences, let alone grant a pardon.

"Therefore, no pressure can stop the executions."
Meanwhile, there are now three people under arrest for that notorious cell phone video of Saddam's lynch-like hanging in the presence of Al-Sadr militants.
Iraqi authorities reported the arrests Wednesday of two guards and an official who supervised Saddam Hussein's hanging and said the guard force was infiltrated by outsiders who taunted the former leader and shot the video showing his body dangling at the end of a rope.

The unauthorized video, which ignited protests by Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs in various Iraqi cities after it appeared on the Internet, threatens to turn the ousted dictator into a martyr. Saddam was shown never bowing his head as he faced death and asking the hecklers if they were acting in a manly way.

The Bush administration sent conflicting signals Wednesday about the taunting and baiting that accompanied the execution, with the White House declining to join criticism of the procedure and the State Department and U.S. military publicly raising questions about it.

National security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie and two other top officials variously reported one to three men were being questioned in the investigation into who heckled Saddam as he was minutes from death and took cell phone pictures of his execution.

Sami al-Askeri, a Shiite lawmaker who advises Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said two "Justice Ministry guards were being questioned."

As the storm over the handling of the hanging gained strength, Caldwell was among several U.S. officials who suggested displeasure with the conduct of the execution.

"If you are asking me, 'Would we have done things differently?' – yes, we would have. But that's not our decision. That's the government of Iraq's decision," the general said.

The White House declined to join in the criticism.
And little wonder. This doesn't make us look good.

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