IRAQ: LAWMAKERS AGAINST EXECUTION OF TOP OFFICIALS IN SADDAM REGIME
July 16, 2011: Iraqi lawmakers on Saturday called the country's presidency not to approve the execution of two top military officials under Saddam Hussein, warning of the consequences of sectarian conflict.
"We demand the presidency not to ratify the execution of Sultan Hashim and Hussein Rashid, because they are symbols of the Iraqi military and the history of the Iraqi army is a witness for their professionalism," Hassan al-Jubouri, a Sunni lawmaker told reporters in Baghdad.
Iraqi Ministry of Justice said Friday in a statement that it had received on Thursday 196 prisoners detained at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport from the U.S. military, including five senior officials of the former regime.
The five officials include Saddam's two half-brothers, Watban Ibrahim and Sabawi Ibrahim, former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed, former chief of staff Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti and a top official of Saddam's Baath party, Aziz Saleh al-Numan, the statement said, adding that they have been sentenced to death in different trials from 2007 to 2011.
"We are concerned that there is an intention to execute Sultan Hashim, former defense minister, and Hussein Rashid, former chief of staff, after the U.S. military handed them over with other detainees to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice," Jubouri said at a press conference.
Camp Cropper, a detention center built in 2006, has held thousands of prisoners, most of whom were handed over to the Iraqi authorities last July.
The U.S. military is turning over bases, jails and prisoners to the Iraqi authorities as the scheduled deadline of full withdrawal on Dec. 31 is drawing.
Jubouri and many lawmakers from Iraq's northern city of Mosul, the hometown of Sultan Hashim, warned that such move is "a menace to the unity of the Iraqi people, particularly as we are looking forward to ending conflict between the already divided Iraqi sects and as the national reconciliation process is underway."
"We reject the execution (of the two) because the verdicts were illegal and were built on political motives because the two were doing their military job, and there is no evidence that their hands were stained in the blood of innocent Iraqis," Jubouri said.
An official in the Iraqi parliament told Xinhua that some lawmakers are collecting signatures from their colleagues in the parliament to jointly oppose the execution.
According to the Iraqi law, the death penalty verdict must be formally approved by the president or vice president. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has authorized his Shiite Vice President Khudair al-Khuzaie to sign the verdict. (Sources: Xinhua Net, 16/07/2011)