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After Iraq’s appeals court upheld the death sentence against Saddam Hussein Tuesday, European governments reiterated their opposition to the death penalty. But there was little sympathy for the former dictator.
European governments expressed their opposition to the death penalty, but respected Iraq’s sovereignty in dealing with Saddam.
According to Iraqi law, Saddam should be hanged within 30 days. Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government has said it will not shy away from carrying out the sentence. Saddam was convicted in November of crimes against humanity for allegedly ordering the deaths of 148 Shiite men from the village of Dujail.
The German government said Wednesday it was satisfied that that the trial had been both necessary and fair. While stressing that Germany is "categorically opposed to the death penalty," Saddam deserved to be tried for crimes against humanity, said the government’s deputy spokesman Thomas Steg.
"There is nothing to indicate the trial, including the appeals process, did not take place in accordance with the rule of law and legal principles in operation in Iraq," Steg said.
The trial helped Iraq "legally come to terms" with its past, the government said.
Britain agreed, saying that Saddam’s execution should be left up to the independent Iraqi tribunal, a foreign office spokesman in London told the AFP news agency.
"Our position is unchanged. We are opposed to the death penalty as a matter of principle, but the decision is one for the Iraqi authorities," the spokesman said.
France reacted similarly, voicing its opposition to capital punishment, but saying that only Iraq could decide how to punish Saddam.
The French Foreign Ministry said that the decision to execute Saddam should be left up to the Iraqi people and the sovereign authorities in Iraq. France’s priority remains to work for the reconciliation of the Iraqi people to restore "complete sovereignty," the statement said.
Italy expressed concern about the death sentence. Italian foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said he feared the execution of Saddam would have negative consequences for reconciliation in Iraq.
© 2006 Deutsche Welle
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