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Iraq Plans to Reinstate Former Baath Officials


Iraqi officials says authorities have drafted a law to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party back into government jobs, a day after the former president was sentenced to death.

A top official, the head of the Supreme National Council for De-Baathification said on Monday that the proposed reform could reinstate thousands of purged Baath Party activists.

Earlier today, Iraqi authorities began relaxing an around-the-clock curfew in Baghdad imposed to prevent a sectarian backlash following the sentencing.

Iraq's High Tribunal convicted Saddam of crimes against humanity Sunday, and sentenced him to hang for ordering the killing of Shi'ite villagers in Dujail in 1982.

President Bush praised the outcome of the trial as a milestone for democracy and the rule of law in Iraq.

In London today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his government opposes the death penalty for Saddam or "anybody else."

Mr. Blair added, however, that the trial was a reminder of the "brutality" of Saddam's regime.

Saddam's sentence is subject to an automatic appeal. His case is expected to be handed over to an appeals panel in the coming days.

Iraqi officials say there is no time limit on the deliberations of the panel. If the judges uphold the death penalty, it must be carried out within 30 days.

Two of Saddam's co-defendants also were sentenced to death Sunday, including his half brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, and the former chief judge of Saddam's Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bander.

Former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison, and three other former Ba'ath party officials received sentences of 15 years in prison.

Information for this report is provided by afp and ap

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