India hopes ex-president Saddam won't be hanged

Hours after an Iraqi court upholds death for Saddam India reacts to the verdict, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 02:06 IST

Hours after an appellate court in Iraq upheld on Tuesday the Tribunal's earlier verdict and death sentence against former Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, the Indian government reacted, hoping the verdict would not be carried out.

"It is our hope that the sentence will not be carried out and the former president's life would be spared," the spokesman for theMinistry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna said in a late night statement. "We would also hope that no steps are taken which can obstruct the course of reconciliation and delay the restoration of peace in Iraq."

The MEA was reacting to the reports from Baghdad.

India has traditionally had friendly relations with governments, including Hussein's in West Asia, and is concerned at the fallout of popular unrest on its four million citizens who live and work in the Gulf.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on record as saying that the United States' decision to invade Iraq was a "mistake".

According to reports, Hussein can be hanged to death within 30 days of today's verdict being ratified by the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and the two Vice-Presidents.

When Hussein was sentenced to death in early November, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had cautioned that "such life and death decisions require credible process of law, which does not appear to be victor's justice, and is acceptable to the people of Iraq and the international community."

The November verdict had resulted in an automatic appeal.

First Published: Dec 26, 2006 22:03 IST