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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:11, October 21, 2005
Roundup: Iraqis split over Saddam trial
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Iraqis are divided on Thursday over the high-profile trial of their former president Saddam Hussein as the country is awaiting results of the referendum on a draft constitution, the first in the post-war country.

When Saddam's challenge to the legitimacy of the US-backed court won him applaud from part of the Iraqi people, others were expecting a speedy execution of him.

Amer Hammash, 33, who believed the trial was to pursue political purposes, said "the timing of Saddam's trial is aimed at deflecting attention of the local and world public from the real results of the constitutional referendum."

However, Abu Ali who disliked Saddam's way of ruling, said " Saddam is a criminal and his trial came late as they should have sued him on the very day of his capture."

"We hope this tribunal can prove to the world that we, Iraqis, have a better new life, and with God's willing, the court will act in a just and transparent way," a young man, Ahmed Muhmoud, said.

"We demand a fair trial so that all people who were oppressed by Saddam will have justice in the new Iraq," said 40-year-old Salwa Abdul Zahra.

"The court should not be politicized," said a Sunni Arab who gave his name only as Yawar.

Meanwhile, Iraqi leaders are also divided along partisan lines.

Adnan al-Janabi, a Sunni Arab parliament member, worried that the government is proceeding with Saddam's trial out of political reasons, which "may have negative impacts on Iraq."

As for the timing of the trial, Hadi al-Ameri, a Shiite lawmaker, said the trial should not be delayed as Saddam has been kept in US custody for 670 days.

"We expect a fair trial so that the Iraqi people and the world can see the difference between Saddam's regime and the current government," Ameri said.

"Saddam deserves a death penalty as he committed many crimes against Iraqi people. This case is not linked to only two persons, but millions of Iraqis who were killed, executed or tortured during his rule," he added.

He also worried that some parties may prolong the trial for two years when Saddam, now 68, reaches 70, to save him from execution. Iraqi law excludes people over 70 from death penalty.

Commenting on technical problems of broadcasting live the trial, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he presumed that such an important trial "should be aired clearly and transparently and such technical problems should be solved in the upcoming sessions. "

"It is either aired live or kept confidential," he said.

The secular Shiite official said "we should punish the criminals and open the door to those who didn't commit crimes, bringing them back to the society," referring to those embattled Baath Party members in Saddam's government.

"The court will be impartial and just," Ahmed Chalabi, deputy prime minister, told reporters allowed to cover the trial.

However, Ghazi al-Yawar, deputy president, refused to comment on Saddam's trial, but expressed hope that "all we want is a fair and transparent trial which reflects willingness of building our new Iraq."

The trial of Saddam and his seven top aides started in Baghdad on Wednesday, but was adjourned until Nov. 28 after Saddam's lawyer Adnan al-Dulaimi requested a three-month postponement.

Saddam pled not guilty over charges of crimes against humanity in connection with the Dujail massacre in 1982.

A total of 143 Shiite villagers were killed in Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad, in 1982. The order came after a group of Shiites failed in an assassination attempt on Saddam's life.

Source: Xinhua

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