EU blasts death penalty as Saddam co-defendants await execution Caitlin Price at 5:56 PM ET
[JURIST] The Presidency of the European Union [official website], currently held by Germany, reiterated the EU's opposition to the death penalty "under all circumstances" in a statement [text] released Friday, as two Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] co-defendants in Iraq continued to face possible hanging. Former chief judge of Iraq's Hussein-era Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar [Wikipedia profile] and former Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al Tikriti [GlobalSecurity profile] were sentenced to death [JURIST report] in November alongside Hussein for crimes against humanity committed in the village of Dujail in 1982. They were originally expected to be executed Thursday [JURIST report], but the executions were postponed [JURIST report] due to what was described as "international pressure." An Iraqi official said afterwards that the executions could still take place after the end of the Eid holiday next week, but a lawyer for the two condemned men was quoted Friday by Reuters as saying [Reuters report] that the defense still had a "great hope of staying the hanging verdict."
The EU presidency, which returned to Germany on January 1 for a six month period, joined the growing international outcry against capital punishment and emphasized the importance of overcoming sectarian dissonance in Iraq:
Ensuring accountability for the crimes committed during the former regime can assist in furthering national reconciliation and dialogue in Iraq. The Presidency recalls that in order to achieve this important aim the prosecution of those crimes must adhere to the requirements of a fair process.
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