Saddam hanging date unclear

Iraqi and US officials debate the former leader's execution date.

    Nouri al-Maliki is trying to avert civil war in Iraq [AP]
    "He was in very high spirits and clearly readying himself," Badie Aref, a defence lawyer, told Reuters after the 69-year-old former leader met his half-brothers, Watban and Sabawi, who are also both held at the US army's Camp Cropper near Baghdad airport.
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    "He told them he was happy he would meet his death at the hands of his enemies and be a martyr, not just languish in jail.
    "He ... gave them letters to his family in anticipation."
    The novelty of the US-sponsored process by which Saddam was condemned on November 5 has left considerable room for wrangling over the timing of any execution among rival factions and between Washington and Baghdad.
    Civil war
    Battling to stave off an all-out sectarian civil war, Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, had said that he wanted Saddam hanged this year for the killings, torture and other crimes against the Shia population of the town of Dujail.
    But some of Saddam's fellow Sunnis have said that this could reinforce their community's alienation and many ethnic Kurds want Saddam first convicted of genocide against them.
    Iraq's Saddam-era penal code bars executions on religious holidays. Eid al-Adha, coinciding with the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, runs from Friday until work resumes on January 7.
    Nonetheless, the US security official in the United States said: "I've heard that it's going to be a couple more days, probably."
    A US military spokesman in Baghdad confirmed that Saddam was still being held at a US-run prison, but said that any change in that status could be kept secret for security reasons.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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