Free Man Sentenced to Death After Unfair Trial


Target: Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq

Goal: Prevent the execution of a man whose trial was unfair and whose “confession” was forced through means of torture

On the surface, it sounds like an open-and-shut case: Osama Jamal ‘Abdallah Mahdi was arrested for the murder of an army officer. He confessed, he was tried, he was found guilty and condemned to death. Easy–except for the fact that Mahdi was 120 km away from the murder when it took place. And that none of the “witnesses” who testified against him actually witnessed the crime. And that Mahdi was tortured and held incommunicado. Now Mahdi’s sentence has been brought before the president, who has the power to uphold it, commute it, or reject it completely. Demand justice for Mahdi, and urge President Talabani not to ratify his sentence.

After his arrest, Mahdi was held incommunicado for eight months, during which time he was tortured. His ill-treatment has been confirmed both by his relatives, who claim that he was beaten, kicked, hung by the arms, shocked, and injured by an electric drill, and by findings from the Forensic Medical Institute in Baghdad, which examined Mahdi and found “20 discoloration marks in various shapes with their size varying from 1 cm x 0.5 cm to 5 cm x 3 cm,” Amnesty International reports. As if this weren’t bad enough, there is ample evidence to suggest that Mahdi did not even commit the crime of which he is accused. His boss reports that Mahdi was at work at the time of the murders, 120 km away from the crime scene. “Witnesses” who testified against Mahdi in court were not present at the crime scene either. One of the witnesses, a man arrested around the same time as Mahdi, recanted his statement, saying it had been forced under torture. Madhi has similarly recanted his own confession, but the court refused to recognize this.

The obscene number of human rights violations and illegal practices plaguing Mahdi’s case make a retrial, if not a full pardon, absolutely necessary. Sign the petition and urge President Talabani not to ratify the execution order against Mahdi.


Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge you in the strongest terms not to ratify the execution order against Osama Jamal ‘Abdallah Mahdi, who has been accused and convicted of the murder of an army officer. There are a number of inconsistencies in the case against him that have been willfully overlooked by prosecutors, and his entire case has been riddled with human rights violations. Executing Osama Jamal ‘Abdallah Mahdi would be a grave injustice. Please do the right thing and reject the order for Mahdi’s execution.

The court used Mahdi’s confession as a cornerstone of its case against him, but Mahdi recanted this confession, alleging that it was obtained under torture. His allegations are supported by statements from his relatives and by the findings of an examination carried out by the Forensic Medical Institute in Baghdad, which reported that Mahdi had “20 discoloration marks in various shapes with their size varying from 1 cm x 0.5 cm to 5 cm x 3 cm.”

Other “damning” evidence proves to be similarly flimsy: the “witnesses” who testified against Mahdi did not actually witness the murder; one witness recanted his testimony, claiming it had been forced from him through torture; and Mahdi’s employer claims that Mahdi was at work 120 km away during the time of the murder. When all these facts are taken into account, the case against Mahdi is weak indeed–certainly too weak to merit a death sentence. Mahdi deserves a pardon, or at the very least, a retrial. He certainly does not deserve to be killed for a crime he did not commit.

Stand up against injustice and support the human rights of Iraq’s citizens. Do not sign off on the execution of Osama Jamal ‘Abdallah Mahdi.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: penguincakes via Flickr

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