US urged not to hand over Saddam

Defence lawyer says Arab League and UN should use their influence with the Americans.

    Saddam has written a farewell note urging his supporters not to hate US-led soldiers [AFP]
    Iraq's highest court on Tuesday rejected Saddam's appeal against his conviction and death sentence for the killing of 148 people who were detained after an attempt to assassinate him in the northern Iraqi city of Dujail in 1982.
     
    The court said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. An official close to Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, has said that Saddam would remain in a US military prison until he is handed over to Iraqi authorities on the day of his execution.
     
    Lawyer's warning
     
    Al-Dulaimi warned that turning over Saddam to the Iraqis would increase the sectarian violence that already is tearing the country apart.
     
    "If the American administration insists in handing the president to the Iraqis, it would commit a great strategic mistake which would lead to the escalation of the violence in Iraq and the eruption of a destructive civil war," he said.
     
    Issam Ghazzawi, another member of Saddam's defence team, said there was no way of knowing when Saddam's execution would take place. He said on Thursday: "The only person who can predict the execution of the president ... is God and Bush [the US president]."
     
    Farewell note
     
    In a purported farewell letter posted on the internet on Wednesday, Saddam urged Iraqi's to embrace "brotherly coexistence" and not to hate US-led soldiers.
     
    "I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking," said the letter, which was written in Arabic.
     
    Saddam is in the midst of another trial, charged with genocide and other crimes during a 1987 to 1988 military crackdown on Kurds in northern Iraq. An estimated 180,000 Kurds died during the operation.
     
    That trial was adjourned until January 8, and experts have said the trial of Saddam's co-defendants is likely to continue even if he is executed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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