Saddam to die within 30 days as appeal fails

Saddam Hussein is to be hanged within 30 days after the Iraqi court of appeals upheld the sentence of death against him for crimes against humanity passed last month. The execution is likely to be carried out in secret; the time and place will be announced later.

The hanging of the former Iraqi leader could provoke a furious reaction from some members of the Sunni community to which he belongs. Shia and Kurds in Iraq largely approve of the death sentence being carried out.

"It is up to the authorities to carry out the sentence," said the head of Iraqi High Tribunal, Aref Abdul-Razzaq al-Shahin. "As far as we are concerned this is what the law says, so the executive authority has an obligation to carry out the ruling within 30 days." No further appeal is allowed. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, earlier said he expected Saddam to be executed before the end of 2006.

After a long and rancorous trial, Saddam Hussein was found guilty on 5 November of crimes against humanity over the killing of 148 Shia Muslims from the village of Dijail, north of Baghdad after a failed assassination attempt against the Iraqi president in 1982. The appeal court upheld death sentences against Saddam's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, and the former judge Awad al-Bander. It added that the former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan, previously sentenced to life imprisonment, should also be executed.

Saddam's chief defence counsel, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said: "If they dare implement the sentence it will be a catastrophe for the region and will only deepen the sectarian infighting." But many Sunni say they are too absorbed in trying to stay alive themselves to worry about the fate of Saddam, even if they sympathise with him.

Insurgents are extending their control over Sunni districts in Baghdad and other cities because of fear of sectarian cleansing by Shia militias. In parts of west Baghdad they are organising young men to defend their districts 24-hours-a-day on a shift basis. But Islamic insurgents have little liking for Saddam as a secular autocrat. In Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, gunmen openly paraded the streets in recent days distributing leaflets calling for an Islamic Sunni republic.

There has so far been little retaliation in Basra to the Christmas Day British assault on Jamiat police station which was later blown up. Local officials had voiced their anger at the raid, which Mohammed al-Abadi, head of the city's council, described as "illegal" and British forces were accused of failing to notify Basra authorities of their plan.

The operation led to the freeing of 127 prisoners held in a single room. A British spokesman said many had signs of torture such as crushed hands and feet or had cigarette or electrical burns. They were handed over to another police unit. The early morning assault by 800 British soldiers backed by five tanks and 40 armoured vehicles was not resisted by members of the serious crime unit. They were blamed by the British forces for the ambush in October of a minibus in which 17 employees of a police academy were travelling. All were killed. A year earlier the same police station was stormed by British forces after two British soldiers were detained there.

As in the past, British spokesmen were swift to talk of a "rogue police station" and "a rogue police unit" as if the rest of the Basra police were smoothly co-operating with the British forces. In reality the police units in Basra give their loyalty to rival militias, competing tribes and criminal gangs.

While the US and Britain have demanded that Mr Maliki remove the militias from the centre of power, they are in fact hoping he will break his links with one militia, the anti-US Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.

The US has close links with the Badr Organisation, the well-organised Shia militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution Iraq, which has carried out many sectarian killings against Sunni but has not so far fought the US forces. The Kurds also maintain powerful militia forces.

The US and Britain have tried since the Shia triumphed in the two general elections in 2005 to divide their parties. But this could provoke an inter-Shia civil war. The necessity of blowing up one of the main police stations in Basra shows how close southern Iraq is to a collapse into anarchy.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week