Friday, December 29, 2006

P-79 Saddam could hang in hours:

Saddam could hang in hours: Iraqi officials

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein may be hanged within hours, senior Iraqi officials and the ousted president's defense team said on Friday...... One senior Iraqi source told Reuters key legal issues had been resolved and he could go to the gallows shortly. Another official said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was meeting key figures, including the Justice Minister, to agree the details.

But the start of a week-long Muslim holiday could delay the hanging and some senior Iraqi officials still doubt there will be a rapid execution...... The State Department denied comments from Saddam's chief defense lawyer and Iraqi state television that U.S. forces had already handed the former president over for execution...... In any case, formal custody may not be very significant since U.S. troops were likely to remain on hand to the end as Washington is concerned the process goes smoothly.

Defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told Reuters Saddam had been handed to the Iraqi authorities and that attorneys had been told they could not visit their client. Earlier he said he was told to arrange to collect Saddam's personal effects -- a move another defense lawyer said indicated he could die on Saturday.

Saddam, whose appeal against a conviction for crimes against humanity was rejected this week, has long been formally in Iraqi custody but physically held by U.S. military guards.


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