A raging legal debate and reconciliation politics have further delayed the scheduled executions in Iraq of three Saddam Hussein-era officials and the whole episode is causing an uproar among Iraqi officials. Ali Hassan al-Majeed, also known as Chemical Ali; Sultan Hashem Ahmed, and Hussein Rashid, all from the Sunni-dominated Hussein government, were found guilty of war crimes during the bloody Anfal offensive during the late 1980s in Iraq’s Kurdish region. They were to be executed by hanging within 30 days after an Iraqi appeals court upheld their sentences in early September. However, the three remain in United States custody amid protests over the case and will remain so until Iraqi legal experts make up their mind on how to proceed. The case most importantly shows the over-powering influence of the US on Iraqi judiciary and politics. "Coalition forces will continue to retain physical custody of the defendants until this issue is resolved. There is still discussion within the government of Iraq over the legal requirements in this case. The U.S. is not refusing to relinquish custody. We are waiting for the government of Iraq to come to consensus as to what their law requires before preparing a physical transfer." an official in the US embassy in Iraq said today.
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