Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI's top prelate for justice issues
and a former Vatican envoy to the U.N., condemned the death sentence in a
newspaper interview published Thursday, saying capital punishment goes against
the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
After Saddam's death sentence was handed down last month, Louise Arbour, the
U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urged Iraq to ensure a fair appeals
process and to refrain from executing Saddam even if the sentence is upheld.
Some international legal observers and human rights groups have also called
Saddam's trial unfair because of alleged interference by the Shiite-dominated
But State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said Thursday the Bush
administration believes the trial was held in accordance with international and
"(The Iraqis) carried out their work in a transparent and open manner and
they arrived at a verdict based on the facts in the case," Casey said.
News of Saddam's impending execution came as the US military reported the
deaths of eight more troops and announced that Iraqi forces, backed by American
forces, captured an al-Qaida in Iraq cell leader believed responsible for the
June kidnapping of two soldiers who were found tortured and killed.
With at least 72 more Iraqis killed Thursday in violence, US officials and
Iraqis expressed concern about the potential for even worse bloodshed following
Saddam's execution. Al-Dulaimi, the lawyer, said transferring Saddam to Iraqi
authorities could be the trigger.
"If the American administration insists in handing the president to the
Iraqis, it would commit a great strategic mistake which would lead to the
escalation of the violence in Iraq and the eruption of a destructive civil war,"
he said in a telephone interview.
On Friday afternoon, a suicide bomber killed nine civilians near a Shiite
mosque north of Baghdad, police said.
US troops killed six people and destroyed a weapons cache Friday in separate
raids in Baghdad and northwest of the Iraqi capital, the US military said. One
of the raids targeted two buildings in the village of Thar Thar, where US troops
found 16 pounds of homemade explosives, two large bombs, a rocket-propelled
grenade, suicide vests and multiple batteries, the military said.
Iraqi forces backed by US troops entered a mosque southeast of Baghdad,
capturing 13 suspects and confiscating weapons, the US military said