Talabani calls for execution delay

Saddam's half-brother and a former chief judge are due to be hanged within days.

    Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, a former chief judge under Saddam, is due to be executed soon [AFP]

    The two men were sentenced to death for crimes against humanity on 5 November for their part in the killing of 143 Shia men in 1982.
    Few powers
    Asked at a news conference on Wednesday about the two pending executions, Talabani said that although he opposed the death penalty "on principle", he had no power to intervene.
    "I don't know the date of the executions," he said.
    Talabani - who for two-decades helped lead a Kurdish revolt against Saddam - has few real powers under the Iraqi constitution and his role is mainly ceremonial.
    Death warrants signed
    Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, has already signed the death warrants and the government has said the executions have been held up by technical issues.
    Al-Maliki's decision to execute Saddam on the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid, followed by the appearance of a video showing the former president being taunted on the gallows by Shia officials, have inflamed sectarian tensions in Iraq.
    Talabani has previously said that he had asked Iraq's government to delay Saddam's execution until after Eid had ended to avoid aggravating sectarian tensions.
    The United Nations has urged Iraq not to carry out the two remaining executions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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