Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday that he does not support the death penalty meted to Saddam Hussein even though the Iraqi leader committed grave mistakes in the past. Blair stated in a press conference that Britain is against the death penalty “whether it’s Saddam or anyone else.” But he also added that the trial “gives us a chance to see again what the past in Iraq was, the brutality, the tyranny, the hundreds of thousands of people he killed, the wars.” The Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad convicted Saddam Sunday and meted him a sentence of hanging for crimes committed against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town. Two other co-defendants were also meted the same penalty of death. According to Blair the trial “also then helps point the way to the only future” the Iraqi people desires: “a nonsectarian Iraq in which people from different communities live together and decide their future through democracy. I don’t underestimate for a single instant the difficulties involved in achieving that, but it’s a battle worth fighting.” The death sentences in Iraq are automatically forwarded to an appeals panel composed of nine judges, which is allowed unlimited time to review the case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days.

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