Senior Iraqi officials on Friday dismissed Washington’s conjecture that they would hang Saddam Hussein this weekend, and said some in the Iraqi cabinet were pushing for the execution to be put off for a month or more.
But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia, who has called for the ousted president to be put to death before the year end, said there would be "no review or delay" in the sentence.
A defence lawyer said he thought Saddam might well die on Saturday. Najib al-Naimi, who helped defend Saddam, told Al Jazeera: “The Americans called the defence team to pick up his personal belongings. All these indications show he will probably be executed tomorrow.”
But in a continuation of the confusion and secrecy at the highest levels, Iraq's Justice Ministry, which must carry out the execution, denied it had taken custody of Saddam from his United States military jailers, and said it could not legally hang him until January 26, when 30 days will have elapsed since the appeals court’s judgment.
Saddam, his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar al-Sadun, a former chief judge, have been sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal for the massacre of 148 Shiite villagers from Dujail north of Baghdad in 1982. The court on December 26 rejected their appeals.