A top Vatican official condemned the death sentence against Saddam Hussein in a newspaper interview published Thursday, acknowledging the crimes of the ousted Iraqi leader but reiterating that capital punishment goes against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI's top prelate for justice issues and a former Vatican envoy to the United Nations, said that Saddam's execution would punish "a crime with another crime" and expressed hope that the sentence would not be carried out. In the interview with Rome daily La Republica, Martino reiterated the Vatican's staunch opposition to the death penalty, saying that life must be safeguarded from its beginning to its "natural" end. "The death penalty is not a natural death. And no one can give death, not even the State," he said.