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7/5/04 - SADDAM HANDOVER TO IRAQ - 2004-07-07

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and eleven officials of his regime have been transferred by the U-S-led coalition to the legal authority of the Iraqi interim government. Saddam Hussein has appeared before an Iraqi judge to face charges stemming from his twenty-three-year reign of terror. He will remain in the custody of coalition forces for the time being because the interim government lacks a suitable prison.

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says the trial of Saddam Hussein will not take place for several months. But unlike the treatment that Saddam Hussein meted out to Iraqis, his trial will be fair:

“Saddam will be entitled to have representation. He is entitled to appoint lawyers. And maybe if he doesn’t have money to appoint lawyers, the government will pay the money so he is represented well. There will be definitely proof and evidence, and it will be a full legal proceeding. We don’t think that he will be able to stage a propaganda coup. But it will be an open trial. It will be an open court. And he is entitled to any representation.”

Prime Minister Allawi says the trials of Saddam Hussein and key leaders of his dictatorship will demonstrate that justice can prevail in the new Iraq:

“We would like to show the world also that the new Iraqi government means business and wants to stabilize Iraq and put it on the route and road toward democracy and peace. We want to put this bad history behind us and to move with the spirit of national unity and reconciliation and the future.”

President George W. Bush says, “Fifteen months ago, Iraq was ruled by a regime that brutalized and tortured its own people, murdered hundreds of thousands, and buried them in mass graves. Today, Iraqis live under a government that strives for justice, holds the rule of law, and defends the dignity of every citizen. The Iraqi people,” said Mr. Bush, “have their country back.”