Former Saddam Hussein Officials Face Death Penalty

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Former Saddam Hussein Officials Face Death Penalty

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International today called on the Iraqi authorities not
to execute former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and two other former
officials sentenced to death by a Baghdad court.

Tariq Aziz, Sadoun Shakir, a former Interior Minister under Saddam
Hussain, and Abed Hamoud, the executed former dictator’s private
secretary, were convicted by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT)
of participating in the killings of opposition activists. All three deny
the accusations.

“Saddam Hussain’s rule was synonymous with executions, torture and
other gross human rights violations, and it is right that those who
committed crimes are brought to justice,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty
International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“However, it is vital that the death penalty, which is the ultimate
denial of human rights, should never be used, whatever the gravity of
the crime.”

“It is also high time the Iraqi government turned the page on this
grim cycle and one step towards this would be to end all executions and
commute the sentences of all those on death row, believed to number
several hundred.”

Tariq Aziz has been imprisoned since soon after the US-led invasion
of Iraq in 2003. He is elderly and reported to be in poor health.

He was sentenced to a 15 year prison term by the SICT in 2009 for his
alleged involvement in the executions of 42 merchants by Saddam
Hussain’s government in 1992.

Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed concern about trials
conducted before the SICT, which has a mandate to prosecute those
accused of crimes committed under Saddam Hussain and whose independence
as a court of law has been put into question by repeated political
interference.

“Internationally recognised fair trial standards are essential and
political pressures must not be allowed to influence the proceedings on
any charges, but particularly those that may result in the death
penalty,” said Malcolm Smart.

If the death sentences against the three, including Tariq Aziz, are
upheld by the tribunal's Appeals Chamber, they could be executed within
30 days.

The death penalty was suspended after the US-led invasion in 2003 but
restored in August 2004. Since then, hundreds of people have been
sentenced to death and many have been executed.

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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