[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] accused the US military on Sunday of thwarting Iraqi attempts to execute Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in Western media as "Chemical Ali," and two other former members of Saddam Hussein's former regime. The Iraqi Prime Minister said the US embassy in Iraq had played an "unfortunate role" in preventing the handover of the three prisoners, who, like most other high-ranking members of Hussein's government, remain in US military custody. In expressing his "determination to ensure that the sentences are carried out," Maliki requested that the prisoners "be delivered so the decision against them can be implemented." US commanders have said that al-Majid will not be transferred until they receive an "authoritative government of Iraq request." BBC News 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 Tariq 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.