Saddam Hussein's half brothers visited him in his jail cell and he gave them his will and personal belongings, Iraqi officials said Friday, indicating his execution may be approaching. A senior commander at the Iraqi defense ministry confirmed the meeting and said Saddam gave his will to one of his half brothers.
Earlier it was reported that the White House was preparing for Saddam to be hanged as early as this weekend. According to a senior administration official, the timetable was based on information that American officials in Baghdad received from the Iraqi government. However, there were differing accounts.
Iraq's deputy justice minister, Bosho Ibrahim, said Saddam shouldn't be hanged for another few weeks. "The law does not say within 30 days, it says after the lapse of 30 days," Ibrahim said, according to the AP.
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.
Iraqi government offices shut down ahead of an Islamic holiday this weekend, and there was confusion over when Saddam would be executed and whether President Jalal Talabani was required to approve such action.
Raed Juhi, a spokesman for the High Tribunal that convicted Saddam, said that with approval from Talabani, Saddam could be put to death within 30 days. Otherwise, the execution would be held after that period, he said. But Hiwa Osman, a spokesman for Talabani, has said the execution might not need the president's signature.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman acknowledged there was concern about a possible surge of violence after the execution. "I'm sure the Iraqi government is thinking through that and working with the coalition in terms of the impact that could have," he said in Washington.