Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday he is "determined" that "Chemical Ali" and two other aides of Saddam Hussein be hanged for genocide against ethnic Kurds. "We are determined that the law be fulfilled and that these (three) be handed over to the judicial system," Maliki told a press conference, according to AFP.
"We will not be swayed from our determination to ensure that the sentences are carried out."
Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as "Chemical Ali" for his use of poisonous gas against Kurds; Sultan Hashim al-Tai, Saddam's defence minister; and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, his armed forces deputy chief of operations, were sentenced to death on June 24.
Under Iraqi law they were supposed to have been executed by October 4, 30 days after their sentences were upheld by the Iraq Supreme Court. But Maliki made it clear he didn't want the executions to take place during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended on October 15.
More than a month after the deadline Majid is still in US custody -- where he is expected to remain until a few hours before his execution. Further complicating matters, two members of the presidential council, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, have refused to sign the execution order.
Hashemi fears that the execution of Tai could undermine already stuttering reconciliation efforts in post-Saddam Iraq.
Meanwhile, al-Maliki announced an amnesty for those detainees who had been "deceived" into joining the resistance in Iraq. The amnesty, he told the press conference, would not apply to those found guilty of killings or planting bombs.
"I asked the legal department and I asked the political council for national security, and they all agreed it is necessary to grant amnesty for those who were deceived or those who committed minor contraventions," Maliki said.
"We believe that some prisoners were deceived and their families will prevent them from returning to terrorism," he said. "This amnesty will not cover those who have been convicted of killings or planting explosives."
© 2007 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )