Ruling On Hussein Appeal Expected By Mid-January - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/6/06-BAGHDAD, Iraq

Ruling On Hussein Appeal Expected By Mid-January

Supporters of Saddam Hussein demonstrate in Samarra on Monday against his death sentence. Supporters of Saddam Hussein demonstrate in Samarra on Monday against his death sentence.
Iraqi policemen patrol the deserted streets of central Baghdad during a citywide curfew Monday. Iraqi policemen patrol the deserted streets of central Baghdad during a citywide curfew Monday.
Iraqis in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood celebrate the guilty verdict against Hussein Sunday. Iraqis in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood celebrate the guilty verdict against Hussein Sunday.

 Iraq's appeals court was expected to rule on Saddam Hussein's guilty verdict and death sentence by the middle of January, the chief prosecutor said Monday.

Additionally, the Associated Press has learned, Iraq's three-man presidential council agreed at least six months ago not to block the death penalty for Hussein, should it be upheld on appeal.

All three members of the Presidential Council -- President Jalal Talabani and Vice Presidents Tariq al-Hashimi and Adel Abdul Mahdi -- must sign death warrants before executions can be carried out.

Hussein and two other men sentenced to hang were among eight defendants in a trial for the 1980s killings of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims from the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, after a failed assassination attempt on Hussein in the city in 1982.

If the nine-judge appeals panel upholds the death sentences, they could be ready for signing early next year, according to a schedule laid out Monday by chief prosecutor Jaafar Moussawi.

Moussawi said the Iraqi High Tribunal, which issued the verdicts on Sunday, must send the entire case file to the appeals panel within 10 days, or by November 15.

Hussein's defense team must submit its appeal to the tribunal by December 5.

While the appellate court has no deadline for its ruling, Moussawi said it would act quickly because it had no other cases under consideration.

"The appeals panel will take less than a month to make its decision," Moussawi said.

Hussein is scheduled to appear in court again on Tuesday, when proceedings resume against him and six co-defendants in a separate trial over a crackdown against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s -- the so-called Anfal case.

Also Monday, Iraq's Shiite-dominated government declared a major concession to Hussein's Sunni Muslim backers that could see thousands of purged Baath Party members reinstated to their jobs.

The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification has prepared a draft law and will soon send it to parliament for ratification, the commission's executive director, Ali al-Lami told The Associated Press Monday.

The move is in harmony with a 24-point national reconciliation plan that was announced in June by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, al-Lami said.

Al-Maliki's reconciliation plan aims to end an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis since the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Curfew easing as demonstrations continue

A round-the-clock curfew imposed in the capital before Hussein's conviction eased Monday, with residents once more allowed to walk the streets and sidewalks.

Around the country, jubilant Shiites celebrated the verdict, as Sunnis held defiant counter-demonstrations.

The surge in violence expected immediately after the Sunday verdict on Hussein's trial for crimes against humanity did not materialize.

An Interior Ministry spokesman credited the round-the-clock curfew in Baghdad, which has a mixed Shiite-Sunni population, and in two restive Sunni provinces.

Checkpoints were closed along Iraq's border with Jordan and Syria, a standard precaution taken during domestic emergencies.

Authorities were gradually lifting the restrictions, with pedestrians allowed back on the streets of Baghdad late Monday afternoon. Vehicle traffic in Baghdad would be permitted beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun and an aide to al-Maliki.

In mainly Shiite Hilla, 60 miles (95 km) south of Baghdad, around 500 people marched in the streets on Monday morning, shouting slogans denouncing the former dictator, who is accused of killing tens of thousands of Shiites following a 1991 uprising.

"Yes, yes for the verdict, which we have long been waiting for," chanted the crowd, largely made up of students and government workers.

At least three people were wounded after gunfire broke out at a Shiite rally in the southwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, a mixed Shiite-Sunni area, police Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razaq said.

Kurds cancel rally, hand out gifts instead

Ethnic Kurds, who like Iraq's majority Shiites suffered brutal persecution under Hussein, abandoned plans for a celebration rally in the northern city of Mosul because of security concerns, said Ghayath al-Sorchi, an official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Al-Sorchi said PUK activists instead distributed gifts to families who lost relatives in crackdowns under the Hussein regime.

About 250 pro-Hussein demonstrators took to the streets in the Sunni city of Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. They were dispersed by Iraqi soldiers for breaking the curfew. Another 400 pro-Hussein protesters marched through Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The curfew was temporarily lifted in Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, to allow residents to shop and run errands. Angry crowds had gathered in the city on Sunday, holding aloft Hussein portraits, firing guns and chanting slogans vowing to avenge his execution.

The U.S. military on Monday announced the deaths of two Marines and one soldier in fighting in Iraq's Anbar province, and two more soldiers in a helicopter crash in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad -- bringing the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to 18.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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