Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak broke an uneasy silence of Arab leaders over Saddam Hussein's verdict, warning Thursday that hanging the former dictator would lead to more bloodshed in Iraq.
An Iraqi court on Sunday condemned Saddam to death for the killing of some 150 Shiite Muslims following an assassination attempt against him in 1982, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he expected the sentence to be executed before the end of the year.
But Mubarak, a regional heavyweight and a top US ally, warned against the execution. His comments published Thursday - among the first of any Arab leader - appeared to reflect the unease of many in the region at seeing a former President tried and sentenced.
"Carrying out this verdict will explode violence like waterfalls in Iraq," Mubarak was quoted as saying by state-run Egyptian daily newspapers.
The verdict "will transform (Iraq) into blood pools and lead to a deepening of the sectarian and ethnic conflicts," the Egyptian president said in what appeared to be the most high profile Arab comment yet on Saddam's sentencing.