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Judge refuses to block Iraqi execution

WASHINGTON --A U.S. judge on Tuesday refused to block the execution of Saddam Hussein's former vice president, saying he had no jurisdiction to step into the case.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said agreeing to the motion brought by Taha Yassin Ramadan's lawyers would be tantamount to rejecting the verdict of an Iraqi trial court and accepting defense claims it was unfair.

Ruling from the bench, he said Ramadan wanted to force the U.S. to overturn the court's decision. Attorneys have called the case a show trial with no legal foundation but said the U.S. has no jurisdiction to review that process.

"No matter how you slice it, I would be collaterally reviewing that conviction" Friedman said.

He agreed with the Justice Department that the U.S. military is acting as a multinational force holding Ramadan for Iraqi authorities and that U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction to interfere in Iraq's judicial process.

Ramadan was convicted alongside Saddam for his role in the 1982 massacre of Shiite civilians. He is being held at a U.S. military prison in Iraq pending his execution.

His lawyers argued he would be tortured if turned over to Iraqis. As evidence, they noted the fate of Saddam and two other co-defendants already put to death.

Similar cases, including one by Saddam on the evening of his execution, had already been rejected.

Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general who represents Ramadan, said the mistreatment of Saddam and his two co-defendants at their executions were barbaric and should be considered reason for U.S. courts to intervene. "They have been taunted, humiliated, tortured and had their heads popped off," Clark said.