Leaders of Europe's foremost human rights institution on Monday warned that the execution of Saddam Hussein would send a dangerous message to the region. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly president Rene van der Linden and Secretary-General Terry Davis said that although the conviction of Hussein was correct, the sentence of death by hanging would only help to further tensions within the country. "Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator and he must pay for his crimes, but executing him would be futile and wrong. What Iraqi people need is justice not retribution," Davis said. "A country ravaged by violence and death does not need more violence and especially not a state-orchestrated execution. Saddam Hussein is a criminal and should not be allowed to become a martyr." Van der Linden said that the "sentence of the death penalty sends a dangerous message to the region: that the new Iraq is to be built on vengeance rather than respect for fundamental human values. Iraq today does not need more death. Capital punishment is wrong - even for the worst crimes - and I appeal to the Iraqi authorities not to carry out this sentence."