U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF ARGUES FOR SADDAM AIDE
February 8, 2007: the U.N. human rights chief filed an unprecedented legal challenge with Iraq's highest court against a possible death sentence for one of Saddam Hussein's former deputies.
Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said killing Taha Yassin Ramadan would be illegal because the death penalty can only be imposed if trial and appeal procedures meet international standards.
Ramadan's life sentence for the killings of 148 Shiites in 1982 is currently being appealed at the Iraqi High Tribunal and could be changed to death by hanging.
In an 18-page brief filed with the tribunal, Arbour said she recognized ``the desire for justice of victims in societies emerging from regimes that have engaged in or procured the most grave and systematic crimes.''
But while the death penalty was permitted under strict conditions, she said the trial of Ramadan ``failed to meet the standards of due process'' and capital punishment would amount to ``cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,'' which is prohibited under international law. (Sources: Ap, 08/02/2007)