Saddam Hussein’s chief lawyer implored world leaders today to prevent the United States from handing over the ousted leader to Iraqi authorities for execution, saying he should enjoy protection from his enemies as a “prisoner of war.”
Iraq’s highest court on Tuesday rejected Saddam’s appeal against his conviction and death sentence for the killing of 148 Shiites in the northern city of Dujail in 1982. The court said the former president should be hanged within 30 days.
“According to the international conventions, it is forbidden to hand a prisoner of war to his adversary,” Saddam’s lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said.
“I urge all the international and legal organizations, the United Nations secretary-general, the Arab League and all the leaders of the world to rapidly prevent the American administration from handing the president to the Iraqi authorities,” he told The Associated Press.
Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI’s top prelate for justice issues and a former Vatican envoy to the U.N., condemned the death sentence in a newspaper interview published today, saying capital punishment goes against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
After Saddam’s death sentence was handed down last month, Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urged Iraq to ensure a fair appeals process and to refrain from executing Saddam even if the sentence is upheld.