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Saddam loses appeal
Carry out sentence in 30 days: Court
New Delhi hopes he’ll be spared
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
India tonight obliquely warned the United States and the current Iraqi regime that execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain might obstruct the process of reconciliation and delay the restoration of peace in Iraq.

The Ministry of External Affairs came out with a prompt and strong reaction on the verdict of the Appeals Court in Baghdad which confirmed the death sentence against Mr Hussain and said the sentence must be carried out "within" 30 days.

"It is our hope that the sentence will not be carried out and that the former President's life would be spared. We would also hope that no steps are taken which might obstruct the process of reconciliation and delay the restoration of peace in Iraq," the MEA spokesperson said in a statement.

The Indian reaction on Iraq and Iran goes against the Anglo-American stated policies. Such a strong reaction is also a politically correct thing to do by the UPA government, considering that the Left parties, whose support is vital for the government's survival, are vociferously against the American policies on Iraq.

New Delhi's reaction is also a demonstration of pursual of its independent foreign policy. However, it can also be seen as a red rag by an influential, non-proliferation lobby within the American polity which is against the Indo-US nuclear deal. India and the US are to start negotiations of their bilateral 123 agreement.

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s highest appeals court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for Saddam Hussein in his first trial and said it must be carried out within 30 days. The sentence “must be implemented within 30 days,” chief judge Aref Shahin. “From tomorrow, any day could be the day of implementation.”

On November 5, an Iraqi court sentenced Saddam to the gallows for the 1982 killings of 148 people from a Shiite Muslim town after an attempt on his life there.

The appeals court decision must be ratified by President Jalal Talabani and Iraq’s two vice presidents. Talabani opposes the death penalty but has in the past deputised a vice president to sign an execution order on his behalf - a substitute that was legally accepted.

Once the decision is ratified, Saddam and other co-defendants sentenced to death at the trial would be hanged within 30 days.

Raed Juhi, a spokesman for the High Tribunal court that convicted Saddam, said the Iraqi judicial system would ensure that Saddam is executed even if Talabani and the two vice presidents do not ratify the decision. “We’ll implement the verdict by the power of the law,” Juhi said without elaborating. — AP

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