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1,000 Iraqi detainees risk execution as premier rules out clemency

By Kareem Abedzair

Azzaman, November 2, 2009

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants to have more than 1,000 Iraqi detainees executed before the general elections scheduled for January 2010.

The detainees were tried in Iraqi courts and tribunals and have been sentenced to death. Capital punishment is permissible in Iraq and apparently Iraqi courts find it easy to pass the penalty.

Maliki has been under immense pressure to show mercy but observers believe his determination to go ahead and implement the death sentences is politically motivated.

"Maliki wants to win over the electorate by showing that he is resolute in liquidating elements belonging to the former regime and the groups the government sees as terrorists," said an observer on condition of anonymity.

Among those sentenced to death are eight senior aides of former leader Saddam Hussein.

Maliki does not hide his hatred of the former regime and its supporters and he is reported to have raised serious fears of the former ruling Baath party making a comeback once U.S. occupation troops leave the country.

Appeals for clemency have come from both domestic and international human rights groups and officials. But Maliki seems unperturbed.

Parliamentary Speaker Ayad al- Samarrai has asked the Justice Ministry, whose headquarters in Baghdad have been damaged in a massive car bomb attack recently, to at least delay the executions until after the general elections.

"The Justice Ministry should look into postponing the executions relying on some legal form so that they cannot be utilized in the general elections," the speaker was quoted as saying.

The elections will be held in January 15, 2010, and Maliki is seeking a second term.





:: Article nr. 59648 sent on 02-nov-2009 22:12 ECT

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