Iraqis Want Saddams Old US Friends on Trial
By Michael Georgy
If Iraqis ever see Saddam Hussein on trial, they want his former American allies shackled beside him. Saddam should not be the only one who is put on trial. The Americans backed him when he was killing Iraqis so they should be prosecuted, said Ali Mahdi, a builder. If the Americans escape justice they will face Gods justice. They must be stoned in hell.
The United States continued to feel the backlash of its move to give Saddam prisoner of war status Tuesday [January 20] as thousands of Iraqi protesters called for his execution. Washingtons move has thrown some doubt over his fate after Iraqs U.S.-backed Governing Council had said Saddam would be tried in a special tribunal by Iraqi judges.
His POW status means the former dictator, accused of sending thousands of Iraqis to mass graves, could have more rights than a war criminal.
In street interviews, Iraqis said Saddam must be tried by an Iraqi court prepared to hand down the death penalty and examine his ties to past U.S. governments. The United States backed Saddam in his war with Iran in the 1980s. During that time, he also gassed an estimated 5,000 Kurds to death in the village of Halabja.
A few years later Washington began branding Saddam a tyrant and an enemy after his troops invaded oil-rich Kuwait in 1990.
Saddam was a top graduate of the American school of politics, said Assad al-Saadi, standing with friends in the slum of Sadr City, formerly called Saddam City, a Shiite Muslim area oppressed by Saddams security agents. My brother was an army officer who was executed. Saddam is a criminal and the Americans were his friends. We need justice so that we can forget the past.
Saddam was captured on December 13 hiding in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit. A month later the United States declared him a prisoner of war. But his new POW status has only added to skepticism about American promises after toppling Saddam in April.
The Americans and Saddam should face justice. Do you really think the Americans are going to put themselves on trial? said Ali, a U.S.-trained policeman. Of course we hope the Americans and Saddam will face trial. But will it ever happen? I doubt it.
Reuters, January 21, 2004