Iraqi law allow Saddam and other Iraqi detainees to vote

Iraqi law allow Saddam and other Iraqi detainees to vote
October 11th, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraqi law allow Saddam and other Iraqi detainees to vote

Iraqi law allow Saddam and other Iraqi detainees to vote
: official

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) A top election official said Tuesday that Iraqi law will allow Saddam Hussein and thousands of other Iraqi detainees who have not been brought to trial to vote in this weekend's crucial constitutional referendum.

However, Abdul Hussein Hindawi, one of the eight highest-ranking officials on the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq, also said the organization was still awaiting a full list from the Interior Ministry and the U.S.-led coalition of the detainees who should be allowed to receive copies of the draft constitution and to vote on Saturday at Abu Ghraib prison and several other U.S. detention centers.

"All non-convicted detainees have the right to vote. That includes Saddam and other former government officials. They will vote," Hindawi said in a telephone interview.

Saddam's long-awaited trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 19 on charges that he and seven of his regime's henchmen ordered the 1982 massacre of 143 people in a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad following a failed attack on Saddam's life.

More than 12,000 detainees are being held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, Camp Bucca and two other U.S. military camps in Iraq, many awaiting trial or, in some cases, formal charges. Many of the detainees are believed to be Sunni Arabs who were rounded up by U.S. and Iraqi forces on suspicion of supporting Sunni-led insurgent groups.

Across Iraq, militants are currently demanding that Iraqis boycott the referendum and have killed at least 345 people in the last 16 days in a series of attacks.

That included five Iraqis who were killed and 17 wounded Tuesday in eight separate attacks in the capital: a suicide car bomb, three roadside bombs and four drive-by shootings, police said. Some of the attacks targeted crowded areas near Iraqi police or army checkpoints.

Monday's fatalities included a U.S. soldier and six Iraqis who died in Baghdad when a suicide bomber detonated a car full of mortars near an entrance to the fortified Green Zone, where Iraq's parliament and the U.S. Embassy are located.

The American death brought to 1,956 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Also in the capital, gunmen opened fire Monday on a convoy carrying delegates from the Arab League in Baghdad during its first visit to Iraq since the fall of Saddam.

The League has met resistance from Shiite and Kurdish leaders as it tries to piece together a reconciliation conference with Sunnis. A policeman was wounded in the shooting, but no one in the delegation was hurt.

The violence comes four days ahead of Iraq's key vote on the new constitution, which Kurds and the majority Shiites largely support and the Sunni Arab minority rejects. Sunnis are campaigning to defeat the charter at the polls, though officials from all sides have been trying up to the last minute to decide on changes to the constitution to swing Sunni support.

Many Sunnis fear the document would create nearly autonomous Kurdish and Shiite mini-states in the north and south, where Iraq's oil wealth is located, and leave most Sunnis isolated in central and western Iraq under a weak central government in Baghdad.

Whether the constitution passes or fails, Iraq is due to hold elections for a new parliament on Dec. 15.
In another development, Iraq has issued arrest warrants against the defense minister and 27 other officials from former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's U.S.-backed government over the alleged disappearance or misappropriation of $US1 billion in military procurement funds, officials said.

Those accused include four other ministers from Allawi's government, which was replaced by an elected Cabinet led by Shiite parties in April, Ali al-Lami of Iraq's Integrity Commission said Monday. Many of the officials are believed to have left Iraq, including Hazem Shaalan, the former defense minister who moved to Jordan shortly after the new government was installed.

For months, Iraqi investigators have been looking into allegations that millions of dollars were spent on overpriced deals for shoddy weapons and military hardware, apparently to launder cash, at a time when Iraq was battling a bloody insurgency that still persists.

With strong U.S. backing, Allawi was named head of the first transitional government after the U.S. returned sovereignty to Iraq in June 2004, but his Iraqi List party did poorly in January parliamentary elections that swept the Shiite-Kurdish coalition into power.

Besides Shaalan, warrants were issued against Allawi's labor, transportation, electricity and housing ministers, as well as 23 former Defense Ministry officials, said al-Lami, who heads Iraq's De-Baathification Commission, part of the Commission of Public Integrity. He did not name all the officials, and Shaalan and the ministers could not be reached for comment.

An attempt was under way to strip Shaalan, a member of parliament, of his immunity from prosecution. Parliament met Monday to do so but did not have a quorum.

"The warrant was issued against Shaalan due to the corruption allegations regarding the missing $US1 billion in the Iraqi Defense Ministry. As soon as his immunity is lifted, the country where he is now living will be asked to extradite him to Iraq," al-Lami said, without naming the country.

The corruption allegations are a blow to Allawi as he tries to assemble a coalition of moderates to run against the current ruling Shiite-led coalition in the December election in a bid to get back into the government.