Iraq speaker seeks pardon for Saddam's defence minister ahead of Ramadan

Iraq speaker seeks pardon for Saddam's defence minister ahead of Ramadan
2 min read
04 May, 2018
Authorities in Iraq have been urged to pardon the former defence minister of dictator Saddam Hussein on health grounds, the speaker of Iraq's parliament said on Thursday.
The former defence minister was sentenced to death in 2007 [Getty]

The speaker of Iraq's parliament called on authorities to pardon the former defence minister of dictator Saddam Hussein on health grounds, reports said on Thursday.

General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, 74, was sentenced to death in 2007 for his role as Saddam Hussein's defence minister in heading up 'Task Force Anfal', through the activities of which an estimated 182,000 Kurds were killed in 1988, but the presidential council has refused to ratify his sentence.

In a letter dated seen by AFP, Salim al-Juburi appealed to Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the country's highest judicial authorities for an "exceptional pardon" for Ahmad in the run-up to the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

The parliamentary speaker explained during a news conference that he had previously received "numerous requests from dignitaries in Mosul", the general's home city in northern Iraq.

Ahmad's lawyer Badia Aref recently told AFP that the health of his client, detained in the southern city of Nasiriyah, was "deteriorating".

The lawyer's additional requests for the release from prison of 14 members of the former dictator's regime, which ended more than 15 years ago, have had no impact.

Ahmad played an important role in his country's eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and in the repression of the Kurds in Iraq.

Last month, the Iraqi government was urged to seize the assets of dozens of relatives and cronies of the executed dictator.

The letter from the Accountability and Justice Committee was sent to the prime minister's office as well as to the ministries of finance, justice and agriculture.

It lists Saddam-era government ministers and officials from his Baath Party, including some who are in prison, who have been executed or have died, as well as the names of their wives, children, grandchildren and other relatives.

In February, Iraqi authorities published lists of names of people wanted on suspicion of belonging to the Baath Party, the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

It included the name of Saddam's daughter Raghad, who lives in Jordan.

Thursday’s plea comes as Iraq gears up for parliamentary elections set for May 12.