Iraq speaker seeks pardon for Saddam's defence minister

Ahmad played important role in Iraq's eight-year war with Iran.

BAGHDAD - The speaker of Iraq's parliament on Thursday called on authorities to pardon the former defence minister of dictator Saddam Hussein on health grounds.
General Sultan Hashim Ahmad, 74, was sentenced to death in 2007 but the presidential council has refused to ratify his sentence.
In a letter dated Thursday, Salim al-Juburi appealed to Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the country's highest judicial authorities for an "exceptional pardon" for Ahmad in the run-up to the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
The parliamentary speaker explained during a news conference that he had previously received "numerous requests from dignitaries in Mosul", the general's home city in northern Iraq.
Ahmad's lawyer Badia Aref recently said that the health of his client, detained in the southern city of Nasiriyah, was "deteriorating".
The lawyer's additional requests for the release from prison of 14 members of the former dictator's regime, which ended more than 15 years ago, have had no impact.
Ahmad played an important role in his country's eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and in the repression of the Kurds in Iraq.