A top Vatican official condemned the death sentence against Former Iraqi dictator 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.
Saddam to be executed within 30 days
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.
Saddam Hussein will be executed by hanging in the next few days, the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam's appeal against a conviction and death sentence for the killing of 148 people in Dujail, in northern Iraq, in 1982.