News analysis: Saddam to be given death penalty?

Following the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Sunday, the international community has expressed their views on how to decide Saddam's fate.

Open Trial
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that Saddam Hussein should be brought to justice for "heinous crimes" through open trials.

"Saddam Hussein has been accused of heinous crimes, including gross and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. It is essential and absolutely vital that all those responsible for these crimes should be brought to account," Annan said.

"I think this should be done through open trials in properly established courts of law, which will respect basic international norms and standards," he said.

Domestic Trial
The governments of the United States, Britain, Russia, Malaysia,together with the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), suggested that Saddam's fate should be decided by the Iraqis, while the US and Britain said that the US-led coalition should be involved in the process.

"We will work with the Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will stand international scrutiny, I guess (it) is the best way to put it," US President George W. Bush said Monday.

"The Iraqis need to be very much involved. ... And we'll work with the Iraqis to develop a process," he added.

"And of course we want it to be fair, and of course we want the world to say, you know, he got a fair trial. Because whatever justice is meted out needs to stand international scrutiny," Bush said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Iraqi people have the capability of giving Saddam a fair trial and the coalition would work with them to keep the process going.

Head of the US-appointed interim IGC Abdel Aziz al-Hakim said in Paris that Saddam should be tried by the Iraqis, but there should be some form of international involvement in the process.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said that only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of their former leader Saddam Hussein.

"The analysis of the previous regime and the trial of its leader is the internal affair of the Iraqi people, and only the Iraqi people can decide the fate of their former leaders," Fedotov said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the people of Iraq should be given the right to decide on the manner and procedure of bringing Saddam to justice. The former Iraqi president must be given a fair trial in accordance with the standards of international law, he added.

Syafii Ma'arif, head of the Indonesian major Muslim group Muhammadiyah, called on the United States to let Iraqi people put Saddam on trial, stressing that the United States has no right to prosecute the former Iraqi leader.

"The US invasion was without a UN backing. If the trial was ledby the United States, it would likely trigger world protest again," Syafii said.

To International Court
Iranian government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said, "We want that the crimes of Iraq's dictator are examined at a competent international court and he is tried."

He also said Iran is preparing a comprehensive complaint against Saddam for "crimes" against the Iranian nation.

"The Iraqi people are first in line to file a complaint against Saddam... but it doesn't mean others do not have the right to filea complaint to international bodies. We naturally want a competent international court to deal with the crimes of this dictator," he said.

Iran's official news agency IRNA reported Monday that the Iranian Judiciary has sent a letter to Annan, demanding Saddam be tried in Iran for his crimes during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Iran claimed about 1 million people are thought to have been killed or wounded during the Iran-Iraq war.

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, who also works as South African Archbishop, said that Saddam should be brought before the international criminal court.

Death Penalty?
As to the possible death penalty to be meted out to Saddam, UN chief Annan expressed his opposition to it, while the head of the IGC said Saddam could be executed. The US and UK leaders said they will respect the decision made by the Iraqis.

Annan opposed imposing a death penalty on Saddam and said the United Nations does not support the death penalty and he and the world body would not "turn around and support a death penalty."

US President Bush declined to give a direct reply to whether Saddam will be executed. He said, "I've got my own personal views of how he ought to be treated, but I'm not an Iraqi citizen. It's going to be up to the Iraqis to make those decisions."

Blair said that it should be the Iraqis that would determine the penalties of Saddam.

He also told reporters that Britain would have to accept a possible decision by the Iraqis to execute Saddam, despite Britain's opposition to death penalty.

Saddam could be tried by a special tribunal set up last week by Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council. He could face war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

What could be Iraqis' decision on Saddam? It could probably be known until July next year after the establishment of Iraq's interim government.

But the situation appears weighted against him. When asked whether the death penalty could be applied to Saddam, IGC chief Hakim said "Yes. Absolutely."



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