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12/27/03 - SADDAM GOES TO TRIAL - 2003-12-29


Saddam Hussein was taken from his hiding place by coalition forces on December 13th. He was armed with a pistol, but did not fire a shot. The self-styled "lion of Tikrit" often called on ordinary Iraqis to fight to the death for his brutal regime. But he made no such effort himself. Now he faces the justice his regime denied so many Iraqis.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the U.S. will work with the Iraqi people and international advisers to help bring Saddam Hussein to trial:

"President [Bush] has made very clear there needs to be a fair trial that can be perceived as fair in the international community, but that Saddam Hussein definitely needs to be held accountable. When we were in Halabja, I know many of the people there were saying, quite openly, that they wanted to try Saddam Hussein in Halabja for the crimes committed by his government. . .using chemical weapons. . . But the final structure [and] location of the court are things that we'll work through as we proceed."

Halabja was one of more than four-thousand Kurdish cities and villages attacked with poison gas and other weapons by Iraqi forces in 1988. Some one-hundred thousand men, women, and children died in the so-called Anfal campaign conducted by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

Saddam Hussein also has to answer for war crimes committed against Iran, including the murder of Iranian prisoners of war in the 1980s. He has to answer for war crimes in Kuwait in the 1990s and for the massacre of some thirty-thousand Iraqi Kurds and Shia Muslims who rebelled following his defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Arabs of southern Iraq want Saddam Hussein brought to account for the genocidal campaign against them, including the systematic destruction of their marshes. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis of various political and religious beliefs have been robbed, imprisoned, tortured, raped, and murdered by a system of cruelty and injustice administered by Saddam Hussein.

As a Shiite religious leader in Basra put it, "Saddam Hussein has left every family grieving for a relative who has disappeared or been crippled by torture." He has a lot to answer for.

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