My prayers are not for Saddam (although I think he could probably use all the help he can get), but for our soldiers and all the Iraqis who may experience violent blowback from the extremists. Makes you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to take him out when the found him in the ‘spider hole’.
DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. officials have transferred former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Iraqi custody, the chief defense lawyer told Reuters on Friday in an indication that Saddam’s execution may be imminent.
“The American side has notified us that they have handed over the president to the Iraqi authorities,” said Khalil al-Dulaimi, head of Saddam’s defense team.
“They told us the president is no longer under the authority of the American forces and they requested us not to go to Baghdad,” he said.
An appeals court on Tuesday upheld Saddam’s November 5 death sentence for crimes against humanity for the killings, torture and other crimes against the Shi’ite population of the town of Dujail.
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Although legally in Iraqi custody, U.S. troops had hitherto physically kept guard over Saddam. Although Iraqis will carry out the execution, U.S. and Iraqi officials say, it is likely U.S. forces will stay on hand throughout for fear that opponents of the former leader could turn it into a public spectacle.
Senior Iraqi officials have dismissed mounting speculation, including from Washington, that they could hang Saddam within hours and said some in the cabinet were pushing for it to be put off for a month or more.
But a defense lawyer said he thought Saddam might well die on Saturday after lawyers were told to collect his belongings.
Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has demanded the ousted president to be put to death this year for killing and oppressing Shi’ites, said there would be “no review or delay” in the sentence after this week’s failure of Saddam’s appeal.
With some of Saddam’s fellow Sunnis angry at what they see as a political act of vengeance by the U.S.-sponsored court and many Kurds keen to see him first convicted of genocide against them, the timing of Saddam’s walk to the gallows is an explosive issue for a country on the brink of sectarian civil war.
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