The Iraq Crisis

Saddam Hussein's Uncertain Future

Great Britain is in favor of trying Saddam Hussein before the Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal and Iraqi leaders say such a trial will have an international dimension." But the U.S. has stayed quiet on the captive's future.

Great Britain is in favor of trying Saddam Hussein before the Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal and Iraqi leaders say such a trial will have an "international dimension." But the U.S. has stayed quiet on the captive's future.

Two days after his capture Saturday night, the location where U.S. forces are holding and questioning Saddam Hussein remained a mystery.

photo: AP
Where will the ex-dictator stand trial?

​​Uncertain as well was the future of the deposed dictator, found by U.S. special forces hiding in a eight-foot hole in the backyard of a farmhouse near Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. U.S. President George W. Bush, in a three-minute speech on Sunday, said the former Iraqi leader would be given the "justice he denied to millions."

On Monday, Bush told Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin during a phone conversation that he wanted the Iraqi people involved in trying Saddam Hussein and that the tribunal must also be credible, Reuters news service reported.

Whether that meant Hussein’s handover to the newly-established Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal or a trial elsewhere remained unclear. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Hussein, for the time being, would be treated as a prisoner of war.

Rumsfeld said the 66-year-old has so far been "uncooperative" in talks with U.S. intelligence officials. Members of the Iraqi governing council had the same to say after a 30-minute meeting with Hussein Monday.

"He was defiant. He tried to justify his crimes by saying he was a just ruler," Adnan Pachachi, Iraq's foreign minister before Hussein took power, told the Washington Post.

Iraqi trial with "international dimension"

Council members already said they are ready to try Hussein at the country’s first tribunal. They added that the trial should have an "international dimension," because of the nature of the crimes Hussein has committed since assuming power in 1979.

"We believe he should be tried by an Iraqi court, but many of his crimes have an international dimension - like war crimes, like crimes against humanity," said interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Great Britain, America’s closest ally, came out in favor of putting Hussein before the Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal and said it would refuse to play a part in any trial where Hussein faced a death sentence.

Great Britain: Iraq should handle Saddam

"Domestic tribunals … should wherever possible try war criminals – and only where that is not available or not appropriate does one make use of international courts," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (photo) told a press conference. He added that Iraqi had a "few good judges" and "good legal traditions."

Straw echoed the opinion of many European leaders, who followed their congratulations to Bush with requests that Hussein’s fate be decided by the Iraqis themselves or another international court.

Iran, which waged a bloody eight-year war against Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980s, announced Monday it was preparing to file a suit against Hussein in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. More than 300,000 Iranians died in the war from 1980-1988, including thousands in poison gas attacks waged by Iraqi troops.

"I hope we can defend Iranians' rightful demands at a proper place," a government spokesman told a news conference.

© Deutsche Welle / DW-WORLD.DE 2003

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