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UN Asks Iraq To Rethink Death Penalty Decision

20 August 2005 -- The United Nations' special envoy today urged Iraqi authorities to reconsider carrying out the first executions since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Ashraf al-Qadi said in a statement that he "deeply regrets" the decision of the transitional Iraqi government to execute three Iraqis convicted of kidnapping, killing, and rape.

He said the transitional government should "take a position that respects the right to life rather than imposing the death penalty."

The three men were sentenced to death in May.

Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi on 17 August signed a decree authorizing their executions.

President Jalal Talabani, an opponent of the death penalty, had delegated the task to Mehdi.

The executions would be Iraq's first since capital punishment since the practice was suspended by the U.S.-led occupation authority following the 2003 invasion.