Arab TV stations report Hussein hanged - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/29/06-BAGHDAD, Iraq

Arab TV stations report Hussein hanged

 Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed, according to two Arabic language media outlets.

Hussein was hanged before dawn on Saturday in Iraq, at about 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), the U.S.-backed Al-Hurra television reported.

Earlier, Munir Haddad, a judge on the appeals court that upheld the former dictator's death sentence, and an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki each confirmed the paperwork needed for Hussein's execution had been prepared late Friday.

"All the procedures have been completed," Haddad said.

At the same time, a U.S. district judge refused a request to stay the execution.

Attorney Nicholas Gilman said in an application for a restraining order, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, that a stay would allow Hussein "to be informed of his rights and take whatever action he can and may wish to pursue."

Haddad had called Gilman's filing "rubbish," and said, "It will not delay carrying out the sentence," which he called "final."

Haddad also said there is no need for a presidential decree for the implementation of the execution.

He said once the handover is completed, "the sentence will be carried out swiftly, without any delay. God willing."

Haddad, who will attend the execution, said he received a call from al-Maliki's office asking him and a prosecutor to be ready for it.

Hussein will be hanged along with two others, Barzan Hassan and Awad Bandar. All were convicted of killing 148 Shiite Muslims in the Iraqi town of Dujail nearly 25 years ago.

Haddad wouldn't disclose the location of the execution and said it won't be broadcast live on TV because of human rights issues.

Meanwhile, Giovanni di Stefano, one of Hussein's defense attorneys, told CNN the U.S. military officially informed him that the former Iraqi dictator has been transferred to Iraqi authorities for his execution and that a "credible source" told him Hussein will be executed "very shortly -- in the next couple of hours."

And di Stefano indicated that the move by lawyers in the U.S. court could mean Hussein is in U.S. military custody now.

"The United States may very well have had a cause to effectively take him back in the event" a judge "grants the temporary restraining order, in which case his life would then be spared at least for a period of time or until such further order of the court," he said.

Giving Hussein to the Iraqis despite a temporary restraining order would be contempt of court, di Stefano said.

Conflicting reports These latest developments come during a day of conflicting reports over whether Hussein was in U.S. or Iraqi custody. Throughout the day, U.S. officials have not wavered in their stance that he remains in U.S. custody.

There has been speculation that Hussein would be executed before Eid Al-Adha -- a holiday period that means Feast of the Sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims around the world at the climax of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

There is a belief that the execution could be soon because the law does not permit executions to be carried out during religious holidays.

Eid begins Saturday for Sunnis and Sunday for Shiites and lasts for four days. Hussein is a Sunni Muslim.

Baha al-Araji, a member of the Iraqi parliament from the Muqtada al-Sadr bloc, said the government is seeking the "opinion of clerics, both Sunni and Shiite, whether they can carry out the death sentence against Saddam on Saturday since it's the start of Eid."

"The clerics would issue a fatwa saying that due to exceptional circumstances the death sentence can be carried out," said al-Araji, whose political movement represents Shiite Muslims.

Sheikh Jalaleddin al-Saghir, who is both a Shiite cleric and a parliament member from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said, "There is absolutely no problem from a religious standpoint to carry out the death sentence at the start of Eid."

Baghdad now is in its regular overnight curfew, and Iraqi and U.S. troops are bracing for protests and violence if an execution occurs. (Watch what some Iraqis think will happen when Hussein dies )

Ministerial aides said government officials have been in "emergency meeting," and al-Araji confirmed that officials were still debating whether to execute the former Iraqi leader on Saturday.

Gallows in Green Zone Al-Araji said the scaffolding where Hussein is to be hanged is in Baghdad's Green Zone, the center of power for coalition officials.

He said he saw a judge, a cleric and a physician at the site. According to Iraqi law, these people have to be present at the execution.

"These people were told to remain there on standby waiting for orders for the government," al-Araji said.

Al-Araji told CNN that he and other parliament members and government officials have been cleared to attend the hanging.

"I would have wished for this to happen in Sadr City, where he has killed the most people," he said.

If the hanging does occur on Saturday, it will "most likely take place between 6 a.m. and noon," he said. Those hours translate to 10 p.m. Friday and 4 a.m. Saturday in the Eastern United States.

Speaking from Doha, Qatar, Najib al-Nuaimi, one of Hussein's defense attorneys, said Hussein's "fate definitely [is] in the hands of God."

Meeting with half-brothers Another defense lawyer, Badie Aref, told CNN that Hussein met with two of his half-brothers in his cell on Thursday and passed on messages and instructions to his family.

"President Saddam was just bracing for the worst, so he wanted to see his brothers and pass on some messages and instructions to his family," Aref said. The half brothers who visited were Sabawi and Wathban Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, he said.

Another of Hussein's half-brothers, Barzan al-Tikriti, has been sentenced to death and is being held in Iraq under the same charges as Hussein.

Aref said the U.S. soldiers guarding Hussein on Tuesday took away a radio he kept in his cell so he could not hear news reports about his death sentence, which was confirmed that day.

"They did not want him to hear the news from the appeals court upholding the sentence," he said. "They gave him back the radio on Wednesday."

Aref said Saddam found out about the appeals court verdict "a few hours after it was announced."

Crimes against humanity Hussein was convicted on November 5 of crimes against humanity in connection with the killings of 148 people in the rown of Dujail after an attempt on his life.

The dictator was found guilty of murder, torture and forced deportation.

The Dujail episode falls within 12 of the worst cases out of 500 documented "baskets of crimes" during the Hussein regime.

The U.S. State Department says torture and extrajudicial killings followed the Dujail killings and that 550 men, women and children were arrested without warrants.

Source: CNN

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