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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:32, October 18, 2005
Feature: Opposition, apathy awash in Saddam's home town as trial looms
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Anger was awash on Monday in the streets of Tikrit, home town to the toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, with his trial just two days away.

A majority of Iraqis in the town either opposed any prosecution to their former leader or objected any possible political windfall for his foes, as many of them still considered Saddam the legitimate president for the country under occupation.

"I reject any political trial for the so-called Saddam's crimes, because he took many of the controversial decisions according to his responsibility as a leader of Iraq," Abdullah Hussein Jbara, deputy governor of Salahudin province, told Xinhua.

However, Jabara admitted that Saddam should be tried on crimes he committed, but insisted at the same time that the court should produce "legal documents and tangible evidences."

Iraq's Special Tribunal has officially announced that Saddam Hussein would go on trial on Oct. 19 on charges of a massacre of Shiites.

Local teacher Muhammed Mahmoud al-Juboury, 32, stressed that the announcement of the trial's date came under pressure from Iran and Kuwait, because Saddam fought against them.

"They are trying to avenge Saddam's wars against them after the US-led troops brought his regime down in 2003," Juboury said.

Another resident, Khalid Amin, was wondering whether the court would only prosecute the crimes in Saddam's era.

"We should let every criminal be prosecuted whether he commits the crime now or in the past," he said.

Khalid believed that the number of innocent people killed, since the US-led troops toppled Saddam in 2003, is larger than that of those killed during the 35-year rule of Saddam.

"If we make mass graves for those who killed after the invasion, we would need larger places than for those killed in Saddam's era, " he said.

Hussein Ali, a close relative to Saddam, said, "as long as the president (God save him) was captured by the enemies (Americans and new Iraqi leaders) and they want to try him, I wish that he could have a fair trial according to the Iraqi law and without interference from any local or foreign parties."

"The court has to be attended by neutral and experienced legal observers, from all over the world, including the United Nations," he said, adding "I would also like to see a professional defense panel because he (Saddam) is still an Iraqi and Arab symbol, despite all his mistakes during his rule."

"He is better than the new rulers who came on the back of American and British tanks," he said.

"I think it is not suitable to try him now," Dr. Ali al-Jabouri, a professor in Tikrit University, said.

"The prosecution itself becomes a controversial issue among different Iraqi parties as some use it to polish the government image as if the government is controlling everything and has nothing to do but Saddam's prosecution," Jabouri said, adding "the prosecution has no more attraction to most of the Iraqi people after they are busy with security deterioration, unemployment and the unknown future of the country."

Asked about what kind of prosecution he would like Saddam to have, Jabouri said, "it should be an international one so that we can be sure of its neutrality because the current major Iraqi powers are all bitter foes of Saddam, let alone the United States and Iran, who considered Saddam an obstacle to their interests in Iraq and the Arab world."

"Touting Saddam's trial from time to time is a move aimed at covering the government's failure in restoring security and stability to the country after the US occupation forces created a security vacuum by toppling Iraq as a state," Azhar Mehdi, a former member of a woman organization during Saddam's regime, said.

"We are sure that the government has not enough legitimacy, if not null and void, to prosecute Saddam," she said, adding " choosing Oct. 19 as a date for the prosecution is to cover the possible failure of the constitution in the Oct. 15 referendum.

Iraqis voted on the draft constitution in Saturday's referendum, which drew strong condemnation from Sunni Arabs, who used to enjoy privilege under Saddam's regime but were largely marginalized since a Shiit-and-Kurdish-dominated government was formed in late April.

However, in Dujail, a Shiite town in Salahudin province where Tikrit is part of it, people struck a different note on Saddam's trial.

A local resident, Sadiq Abdul-Amier, was pleased to hear that Saddam will be executed soon. Ameer believed that Saddam was the reason of miseries of all Iraqis.

"Saddam was a criminal and had spilled blood of dozens of people in our town during his rule, so we demand he be executed very soon," Ameer said.

Saddam is charged for his role in the 1982 massacre of 143 Shiite Muslims in Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad, following a failed attempt on his life.

"The least penalty for Saddam should be execution, as he orphaned many children, widowed women and bereaved mothers," Ameer added.

Nevertheless, another citizen in the town, Nadhum Haider, believed that Saddam's execution would make no difference for him as the state of disorder, violence and insecurity replaced Saddam's crimes ruthlessly.

"Why would someone think that Saddam's trial is so important? For me, it makes no difference," Haider said.

"I lost three family members last month in Balad in three car bombings. If we have one criminal in the past, we have dozens now, " Haider lamented.

Source: Xinhua

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