[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] has formally asked US President George Bush to hand over Ali Hassan al-Majid [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], better known in the Western media as "Chemical Ali," and two other former members of Saddam Hussein's former regime, Iraqi officials said Thursday. In a letter to President Bush Tuesday, Maliki demanded that the US hand over the three men immediately. Earlier this month, Maliki accused the US military of thwarting Iraqi attempts to execute the three men [JURIST report], and expressed his "determination to ensure that the sentences are carried out." At that point, US commanders said they would not transfer the men to Iraqi custody until they received an "authoritative" request from the Iraqi government. On Monday, Iraqi Kurdish and Shiite lawmakers criticized the delay [JURIST report] in the executions of the three men, while Sunni leaders have campaigned to commute the death sentence of Sultan Hashim al-Taie, a man many believe Hussein forced to follow orders. AP has more.
The Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced [JURIST report] al-Majid and two co-defendants to death in June on genocide and war crimes charges. The Tribunal's Appeals Chamber upheld the death sentences [JURIST report] in September. Under Iraqi law, the executions were supposed to have taken place 30 days after the men were sentenced, meaning that the men should have been executed no later than October 4. Iraq's Presidency Council, including Kurdish President Jalal Talibani, Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, have nonetheless refused to sign any execution order [JURIST report]. An Iraqi judge said in September that presidential approval is not required [JURIST report] to carry out an execution for al-Majid and his co-defendants, but al-Hashemi reasserted in October that the presidency did in fact have the power to block the carrying out of the death sentences [AP report], regardless of their approval by Maliki.