EU criticises Iraq for planned execution of Saddam aides
Brussels (dpa) - The European Union on Friday criticised the planned execution of two aides of recently hanged former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and called on Iraqi authorities to ensure a fair prosecution of crimes committed under Saddam's regime.
"The EU opposes capital punishment under all circumstances," the German EU presidency said in a statement, underlining the bloc's "longstanding position ... with regard to the death penalty."
Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
Iraqi authorities Thursday postponed the hanging of Barzan al- Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence boss, and former judge Awad al-Bandar, but the new execution date remained unclear.
The two were found guilty along with Saddam of crimes against humanity in the killings of 148 Shiite men from the town of Dujail in the 1980s.
Both men were "high-ranking representatives of Saddam's regime, which had brutally oppressed its own population for decades," the EU said, adding: "Thousands of innocent people were killed and tortured, many disappeared."
However, the 27-member bloc called on Iraqi authorities to ensure that crimes committed under Saddam's regime are prosecuted under the requirements of a fair process.
"Ensuring accountability for the crimes committed during the former regime can assist in furthering national reconciliation and dialogue in Iraq," the EU said. The bloc also urged Iraqi authorities to bring together all parts of Iraqi society "irrespective of ethnicity or religious affiliation," adding: "Iraq deserves a better future."
Europe's top human rights watchdog Friday urged Iraq immediately TO halt executing Saddam's regime members and to abolish the death penalty.
While expressing its solidarity with the victims of Saddam's regime, the 46-member Council of Europe said that "the death penalty violates human rights, and that without human rights there can be no justice, peace and reconciliation." // © 2006 DPA