[JURIST] Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in Western media as "Chemical Ali," will not be transferred to Iraqi custody for execution until a legal debate on the executions is resolved, the US embassy in Iraq said Monday. US spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said that there are unresolved questions about the legal and procedural requirements for executions ordered by the Iraqi High Tribunal, and until such questions are answered, al-Majid and two other defendants will remain in the custody of the coalition forces. The remarks come as a response to comments made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] on Sunday accusing the US military of thwarting Iraqi attempts to execute al-Majid [JURIST report]. AFP has more.
The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced [JURIST report] al-Majid to death in June on genocide and war crimes charges. The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentence [JURIST report] in September. Iraq's Presidency Council, including Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, have nonetheless refused to sign any execution order [JURIST report]. An Iraqi judge said in September that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution for al-Majid and his co-defendants, but al-Hashemi reasserted in October that the presidency did in fact have the power to block the carrying out of the death sentences [AP report], regardless of their approval by al-Maliki.