Monday, 12 March 2007

Death penalty/fear of imminent execution

- From Amnesty International USA

To read the current Urgent Action newsletter, go to

12 March 2007
UA 62/07
Death penalty/fear of imminent execution

Muhannad Hamza Matar (m), aged 26

Muhannad Hamza Matar was sentenced to death by the Central
Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) on 21 November 2006. He is now
at risk of imminent execution, though he can still seek a
pardon from the president.

He was one of five men detained in March 2005, in the town
of al-Hilla, south of Baghdad, in connection with the
killing of a police officer. The officer had been shot dead
from a car in the al-Mashru'a district of al-Hilla.

Muhannad Hamza Matar reportedly confessed to killing the
police officer during the initial police investigation, and
later before an investigative judge. The five men were tried
by the CCCI in al-Hilla in April 2006 in two sessions,
during which Muhannad Hamza Matar withdrew his confessions,
reportedly on the grounds that he had made them under
duress. However, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced
to life imprisonment while the other four men were acquitted
and released. On 27 July the Appeal Court ruled that the
life sentence was too lenient and referred the case back to
the CCCI, which on 21 November sentenced Muhannad Hamza
Matar to death. In accordance with Iraqi law, the case will
shortly go back to the Appeal Court, which is expected to
confirm the death sentence.

Since the reintroduction of the death penalty in Iraq in
August 2004, scores of people have been sentenced to death
and there has been a rapid rise in the number of executions,
with at least 65 people put to death in 2006 alone, many of
them after trials which may have been unfair. Under Iraqi
law those sentenced to death can seek pardon from the

On 11 February 2007 the Iraqi authorities announced that 14
people had been executed ''in recent weeks'' for murder,
rape and kidnapping. They gave no further details.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly
as possible:
- expressing concern that Muhannad Hamza Matar has been
sentenced to death and is at risk of imminent execution;
- expressing concern that he was convicted solely on the
basis of confessions that may have been extracted under
torture or ill-treatment;
- urging the authorities to commute Muhannad Hamza Matar's
death sentence and retry him in accordance with
international fair trial standards without the imposition of
the death penalty;
- calling on the authorities to commute all death sentences
and abolish the death penalty.

Please send direct appeals to the email addresses below
(where available), or send appeals via the Iraqi embassy,
asking Ambassador Samir Sumaida'ie to forward your appeals

Jalal Talabani
Salutation: Your Excellency

Prime Minister:
Prime Minister
Nuri Kamil al-Maliki
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice:
Minister of Justice
Hashim al-Shibli
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hoshyar Zebari
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please send copies to Ambassador Samir Sumaida'ie, and
request that the Embassy send copies to:

Human Rights Minister:
Human Rights Minister, Wajdan Mikhail

His Excellency Samir Sumaida'ie
Ambassador to the United States
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
1801 P Street
Washington DC 20036
fax: 1 202 462 5066
phone: 1 202 483 7500

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the AIUSA Urgent
Action office if sending appeals after 23 April 2007.


Troubleshooting for Emails

When a government official's email is listed on an Urgent
Action which is distributed globally to activists in over 80
countries, you can imagine how many emails begin to come in
to the official's office! Thus, it's not unusual for an
email to one or more of the listed officials to bounce back,
due to an exceeded mailbox quota or other delivery failures.
Before including an email address in an Urgent Action, the
research and UA teams send messages to ensure emails can get

Please try to send your appeal as quickly as possible. But
if you send an email that bounces back, please fax or mail
your letter so that the official still hears your concern.
In this Urgent Action on Iraq, please fax or email any
bounced messages to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington DC.

Tip of the Month:
Please send copies of government replies to the Urgent
Action office. The UA office tracks all replies to Urgent
Action cases and forwards the information to Amnesty
International's research teams

Within the United States:
$0.24 - Postcards
$0.39 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Mexico and Canada:
$0.55 - Postcards
$0.63 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
$0.75 - Aerogrammes
To all other destination countries:
$0.75 - Postcards
$0.84 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
$0.75 - Aerogrammes

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including
contact information and stop action date (if applicable).
Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566


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