... even if the person hanging is Saddam Hussein.
Don't misunderstand me, please, I'm not a fan of Saddam at all. He was a dictator and his country is better off without him (even though it doesn't look like it at the moment). I don't think he should ever have been in control of anything - surely not a country. But there's a difference between thinking that somebody should spent the rest of his days in a prison cell and thinking he should be hanged (during a time Moslems consider holy - how stupid is that?). And I have to admit he went with style ... at least as long as you can be hanged in style. No crying, no screaming, no begging for mercy, but a man going to meet his fate calm and in control. Even if you hate Saddam (and I wouldn't go that far even though I can't stand him), you have to admit this was a stylish way to face death.
I think that nobody has the right to kill, no matter whether it's a person or a government. I make amends for soldiers here, because there are certain migrating circumstances for a soldier in a war (like getting shot at). As long as the person killed is a soldier as well - not a prisoner -, I won't call it murder (unlike some radical pacifists) - but killing civilians is something different for me.
So a death sentence is murder as well for me. It doesn't matter if the laws of a country say it's legal. There are laws calling it legal for women to only leave the house under a heavy veil, but that doesn't make those laws 'legal' as far as human rights are concerned. For me, it's the same for a death sentence. If a country has a law that makes murder illegal - and all countries have, there's no point in asking about the religions or ethics there, murder is one of the few crimes considered 'crimes' everywhere - then this country has no right to put people to death, no matter for what offence.
There are various reasons for this.
The most important reason normally (even though it doesn't apply to Saddam) is that the fact a person was judged to be guilty doesn't necessary mean that person really is guilty. If a group of students can prove almost half of the death sentences they looked into were unfounded, then for me it is safe to assume that there are other people out there in the various death rows of various countries who are innocent as well.
The second important reason is that most means of putting people to death are not what I'd call humane. Why use electricity or poison (as liquid or gas) to kill somebody? Why hang them or stone them? What's wrong with the good, old bullet through the head? It's fast, it works every time and it's gruesome - reminding people of the fact that the government is killing here, not just putting away somebody. What would, provided you show the corpses to the public, be more scaring: a body with half of the head missing and grey matter dripping slowly to the floor or a body mostly unmarked, just lying there? But stop - those probably are the reasons why governments rarely use this form of execution (one up for China here, you can say a lot of bad things about this country, but they do their executions out in the open for everybody to see and without pretending they are anything but the government killing off people).
The last important reason is, as you might have guessed already, that I don't believe in killing for any reasons - and that, ladies and gentlemen, comes from a woman who admits she's playing 'Killerspiele' on a regular basis. If you (or somebody else) are under attack, whether as a soldier or as a civilian, you have the right to defend yourself - even if that might mean taking the attacker's life. That's okay, because everybody attacking someone has to expect getting hurt or even killed in return. If you're good at defending yourself, because, say, you're an expert on karate or something, you're supposed to be able to deal with an attacker without killing that person. Otherwise, feel free to use any means at your disposal, even the terminal ones. But outside this usually very rare occurrence (at least it's rare where I live), you don't have the right to kill, no matter who you are. If you're a member of the police force, you have the right to injure somebody, you might even be forced to kill, but I see this as a variety of the 'defending yourself'-exception mentioned above - you'd be defending more or less helpless people and that's okay by me.
And what's about hanging the man on a holy day? Didn't the current government in Iraq realize what that would mean? What was the problem in waiting until those days were past? What was so bad about letting Saddam go on breathing in his cell until, say, January 27th - the day for which the hanging was originally scheduled?
They deserve what they'll get now - seriously.