International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

December 18, 2003

December 18, 2003





**  Global media urge a fair, transparent, public trial for Saddam, lack consensus on specifics.

**  Most favor a "special" international tribunal, but U.S. antipathy to the ICC is an obstacle.

**  Saddam should be tried by an "independent" Iraqi court; the U.S. must not "interfere."

**  Many say the death penalty is "not justice"; Hussein's execution could make him a "martyr."




A special tribunal with 'international participation' is the most 'elegant solution'--  Most analysts determined that the only "realistic possibility" for a fair judicial process would be with a special international tribunal modeled after the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda cases.  Others debated whether to try Saddam in The Hague, since the ICC "could be an intelligent way of not having either the USA or Iraq lead the process."  ICC critics, such as Spain's conservative La Razon disagreed because, "it would be a paradox if Saddam...winds up facing an international court that hasn't been recognized by the U.S."  Furthermore, noted the centrist Times of India, the ICC has "no jurisdiction" in this as "neither Iraq nor the U.S. have signed up to its statutes."


Saddam must be tried by his 'own compatriots'-- Conservative papers in Britain, Canada and Spain found common ground with leftist voices in asserting that Washington "is right to insist that Saddam be tried by his own people."  On the right, London's Times held: "It will not be for outsiders to decide whether Saddam should hang" and if the Iraqis want to execute him, the Sun averred, that's "their business."  On the left, Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung deemed an Iraqi trial "a good idea because the Iraqi people will then have a chance to show their democratic maturity."  Echoing global sentiment, Iraq's Independent Democrats Group-run Al-Nahdah called for "a public and fair trial" whose aim is "not revenge but upholding justice."


An Iraqi trial under the 'censorious eye of the occupier' is neither fair nor 'legitimate'-- Skeptics in Latin America, Asia and the Muslim world countered that a trial run by the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) would be tainted by the U.S., warning that "American justice will not be acceptable to Iraqis."  Expressing a typical Arab view, Morocco's semi-official Le Matin du Sahara argued: "Any foreign meddling, and specifically American meddling, would compromise the trial's impartiality."  Asian columnists stressed the "key issue" is that the "U.S. must not interfere in the trial."  Euro and Latin cynics doubted Iraq's ability to conduct a "fair trial," since "trials and justice have little in common in the Middle East."  A Peruvian daily added that finding "competent judges" would be difficult in "a country that has never known about democracy."


'Bloody atonement' for a 'coward tyrant' is not justice--  Those debating the death sentence for Saddam asserted that even though he is a "ruthless criminal" and may deserve "even worse," his punishment was "up for a court of justice to decide."  Death penalty opponents in all regions agreed with Zambia's independent Post that executing him would "only give ammunition to those who believe in terror."  While Muslim papers regretted that Saddam did not choose the "option of sacrifice" and thereby enabled his own "humiliation and ridicule," the UAE's semi-official Al Ittihad wanted him kept alive "so he will be prosecuted in a civilized way; let him be a model for other Arab executioners."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 110 editorials from 58 countries, December 15-18.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "The Legal Limbo Of Saddam And The Prisoners At Guantanamo"


The center-left Independent held (12/17):  "Saddam Hussein has been in captivity no more than four days and he is already presenting almost as much of a conundrum to the U.S. authorities as when he was at large.  Initially, Washington gave the impression that the ousted Iraqi leader was being considered a prisoner of war and accorded all the safeguards of the Geneva Conventions....  The notion that Saddam might be treated better than the hundreds in Guantanamo was clearly too much of a stretch even for the U.S. Administration in full 'war on terror' mode.  So Saddam is to be treated to the same a la carte interpretation of the Geneva Conventions as the Guantanamo prisoners.  This means that while the physical conditions may be tolerable, all the psychological, judicial and other protections will go by the board.  The flouting of the conventions will start with his interrogation by the CIA which, we may assume, has already begun."


"It's Simple: The Only Good Saddam Is A Dead One"


Simon Jenkins commented in the conservative Times (12/17):  "The arrest of Saddam Hussein outside Tikrit on Sunday was a mistake.  The only good Saddam is a dead one....  An Iraqi, not an American, should have announced his death to the world.  Instead the primacy of American domestic politics again got the better of sound strategy.  George Bush wanted Saddam on the end of a rope but in his own good time....  Iraq is still awash in blood.  That blood would have been saved by the bucketful had a grenade been dropped into a certain foxhole at 8pm last Saturday.  It would have been the quickest way to draw a line under Iraq's wretched past."


"Law Of The Land"


The conservative Times judged (12/16):  "Human rights groups are calling for an international trial to ensure political fairness.  This call is as naive and inappropriate, however, as the demand by some American politicians that Saddam be tried in America.  Neither would be acceptable to the Iraqis, and both scenarios would be used by nationalists and Islamist extremists to complain that 'victor's justice' was simply a way of justifying the coalition attack....  The coalition must make clear to the Iraqis that only a trial seen to be fair will satisfy world, as well as Iraqi, opinion....  It will not be for outsiders to decide whether Saddam should hang; Iraqis know what their history demands." 


"Let The Iraqi People Try Their Oppressor"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (12/16):  "Whatever the difficulties, Washington is right to insist that Saddam be tried by his own people.  The status of occupied power is widely loathed in Iraq and acts as a recruiting agent for the rebels.  There are cogent political reasons for America and Britain to dissolve the CPA as soon as possible.  An important part of that process is the opportunity for the Iraqis themselves to bring to justice a man whose crimes were primarily committed against them, rather than see him handed over to an international tribunal."


"Their Choice"


 An editorial in the right-of-center tabloid Sun stated (12/16):  Both Tony Blair and George Bush struck exactly the right note yesterday....  What matters most of all is that we restore to the people of Iraq their sense of justice.  If they wish to execute Saddam as retribution for the hell he put them through, then that is their business.  And only their business."


FRANCE:  "The Political Headache"


Guy de Carcassonne wrote in right-of-center weekly Le Point (12/18):  "International law offers several possibilities, but the issue will slide from the legal to the political, because the solution will require giving the UN a role which the U.S. has rejected until now."


"Bush Savors His Revenge"


Correspondent Patrick Jarreau analyzed the consequences of Saddam’s capture in left-of-center Le Monde (12/16):  “For the Americans, Saddam’s capture has the sweet smell of revenge...and the fact that he was handed over thanks to information coming from his own men is even more good news for Washington. It proves that the balance of political power in Iraqi society is shifting and that it is not completely set against the coalition forces.… While this is strategically important, the argument can be turned around: If Saddam was captured, it may also have been because he did not play such an important role in Iraq’s armed opposition.… President Bush does not appear eager to find a compromise on Iraq with France, Germany and Russia, or with the UN.… Saddam’s capture and his future trial give America the glamorous role of righter of wrongs, which it so likes.  For President Bush, it is a welcome respite from the criticism he has been facing since last summer. But the debate over his choices since 9/11 has only just started.”


"A Captive…"


Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (12/16):  “This captive must be tried and treated with humanity.  His treatment must be the exact opposite of how he has treated his citizens and his neighbors....  The endless pictures we have been seeing of a manipulated and dazed individual leave us feeling uneasy....  Some of those images violate international conventions on the treatment of prisoners.  But their message is clear:  of victory for the American public, of reassurance for the Iraqis, of strength for the people in the region and dictators, whether in power or in the making.  Still, the debasement of an individual cannot be used for either educational or strategic purposes.”


GERMANY:  "Where To Go With Saddam Hussein?"


Christian Bommarius judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (12/18):  "The exclusion of the death penalty is probably the reason why President Bush refused to allow the UN to try Saddam Hussein.  Bush  wants to punish the barbarity of the dictator with the barbarity of the hangman.   It is likely that for him the crusade in the name of human rights would  come to a triumphant end with the administration of the death penalty....  But the Europeans aren't the only ones to believe barring the death penalty is a minimum principle among civilized nations....  The fatal error of the  supporters of the death penalty is that they consider rational the reason they  present in favor of the death penalty.  The bloody atonement nurtures the illusion that, with the execution of the death penalty, law and order is  restored again and 'ultimate justice' gains the upper hand....  But the death  penalty is not a question of justice but civility.  George Bush waged the  campaign against Saddam Hussein in its name, and in its name, the UN must insist  on the extradition of the ousted dictator to a UN tribunal."




Centrist Mannheimer Morgen noted (12/17):  "Will Saddam's existence on earth end on the electric chair?  One thing is clear:  the butcher from Baghdad must atone for his crimes.  The danger that he will take over the role of a martyr in a trial is not very great, since the beginning of his captivity got trivial features: a depraved Saddam who cowardly hid in a spider hole, was arrested without putting up any resistance....  Even the greatest fanatics in the Arab world can do without such a hero.  No punishment can make Saddam's crimes unhappen.  This is why there cannot be a show trial.  A trial in Iraq would certainly have a purging function, but must be fair:  hatred and anger simply do not replace the rule of law."


"A Difficult Decision"


Centrist Darmstaedter Echo stated (12/17):  "The United States is faced with a different decision when it comes to deciding on the upcoming trial against Saddam Hussein.  The Americans are urgently interested in interrogations that will reveal evidence of the original reasons to wage this war: WMD and Iraq's involvement in terrorism.  On the other hand, they must avoid any appearance of imposing the justice of the winners and of carrying out a show trial....  One thing is sure: the trial can be a signal for Iraq, the entire region and the future relationship of the West with the Islamic world."


"The Procedure Before The Trial"


Stefan Kornelius opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/16):  "Saddam's trial is a large-scale event that could easily end in a political fiasco.  Saddam himself can try to turn around the trial and spread poison, like Slobodan Milosevic did when he tried to turn his tribunal into an accusation against attacking NATO forces....  The United States must make the most important decision by choosing the trial site and the responsible body of judges.  All indications point to a trial before an Iraqi court....  This is, in principle, a good idea...since the Iraqi people will then have a chance to show their democratic maturity in a trial that is based on the rule of law and is transparent.  Such a procedure would send a signal to the country and the entire Arab world and will make an imprint on the understanding of democracy....  The legitimacy of the Saddam trial and the credibility of the ruling will be closely linked to the legitimacy and the credibility of the new government.  The more open it is and the easier the transfer of power to the new Iraqi authority, all the better for the trial."


ITALY: "The Only Way Is A UN Tribunal"


Vittorio Grevi commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/16): "While in our case it would not make sense to consider the establishment of a court by the U.S. and by their allies, like the ones set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo...a realistic possibility could be the creation, by the UN Security Council, of an international criminal court with restricted competencies similar to those set up for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. This way we would guarantee on one hand the absolute impartiality of the court and on the other the respect of guarantees of the defendants as established internationally, including the exclusion of the death penalty.... This would be a way to give the UN aegis to the ending of Saddam's political ordeal - who has now gone from being a 'dictator' to a 'defendant' - preserving him from the risk of a death sentence, despite his very serious criminal responsibilities."


"The Horror Of Revenge"


Gian Giacomo Migone judged in pro-democratic left party L'Unità (12/16): "Before the crimes he committed it is not easy to feel the pity for prisoners which is established by the Geneva Convention. And yet, I'm convinced that before the images broadcast by CNN worldwide, in which a medical doctor checked the mouth of the prisoner as if he were a horse, millions of people of a civilized world instinctively felt a sense of horror. ... It is evident that the treatment reserved for Saddam Hussein will constitute a fundamental testing ground for the ability of the occupying authorities to favor the affirmation in Iraq of principles of democracy and juridical civilization that were unknown under the former regime. The objective of every dictator and of every terrorist today is to make us more similar to them, by abandoning rules and values that they intend to destroy. Luckily for everyone, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, reminded us of this by affirming the need to hold a trial which conforms to international law and that excludes capital punishment, which has been banned by the UN General Assembly."


RUSSIA:  "Who Will Try Saddam?"


Vladimir Dunayev and Georgy Stepanov maintained in reformist Izvestiya (12/17):  "Right after the ex-dictator's arrest, the Americans were acting in an ungentlemanly manner and, strictly speaking, violated Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, which deals with a behavior that is insulting and humiliating to human dignity.  That is, if Saddam is a prisoner-of-war, of course.   At the beginning of the war, when Iraqi television showed captured Americans being interrogated, Washington protested, calling this a violation of the rights of prisoners-of-war.   Just like Talib terrorists, Saddam might be put in a cage in Guantanamo, with no prospect of seeing his relatives or lawyers.   In fact, the Americans treat him no better.  Saddam Hussein may deserve even worse, but it is for a court of justice to decide. For the time being, the ex-dictator's fate is entirely in the Americans' hands.... The United States wanted a small victorious war. It got what it wanted. George Bush needs a good trump card to win re-election next year.  Hussein, the ace of spades in the Iraqi deck of cards, perfectly fits the bill. Which means that there will be no Saddam trial before next summer."


"There Are More Questions Than Answers Now"


Oleg Shevtsov wrote in reformist youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (12/16): "Most Iraqis stayed away from the resistance, refusing to have anything to do with the old regime.   That may change now.   Destroying rebellious General Dudayev during the first Chechen War only 'Islamicized' the nationalists and increased the number of terrorist acts manifold.... The fact that Baghdad is ready to restore the death penalty to use it against the legally elected president makes the sensitive European public shudder.   It is still doubtful that the judges will act without bias under strict control from their U.S. 'aides.'"


AUSTRIA:  "The Interrogation"


Ernst Trost declared in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (12/17):  “Remorse is not to be expected from the likes of Saddam Hussein. It is unlikely that he is even capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. After all, his absolute regime was based on the assumption that everything he did and everything he decided was correct. From Saddam’s point of view, even the use of poison gas on the Kurds happened entirely in the interest of Iraq. When he had his own people killed, they were obviously ‘enemies of the state,’ who deserved to lose their lives. The dictator’s view of the world was entirely in order--it only got shaken up with the defeat against the U.S. Saddam was allowed to do anything--anything but lose. There can be no doubt in anybody’s mind about the extent of his crimes, but an Iraqi court set up by the Americans will have to fight hard for credibility in the eyes of the Iraqi people.”


"Law And Justice"


Foreign affairs writer Thomas Vieregge wrote in centrist Die Presse (12/16): “The evil spirit was dragged into the light and in front of the cameras. However, this does not mean that justice has been done.… Saddam must be brought to justice for his crimes against humanity. As an act of psychological hygiene, a rollcall of his atrocities is absolutely necessary for Iraqi society, even though the process might be painful. But how can this be achieved? As soon as the dictator was in American custody, the struggle for criminal proceedings set in. Even after his arrest, Saddam is keeping Washington busy. The faithful friends in London have declared that they are against the death penalty. The majority of Americans, however, is expecting just this result, if only subconsciously.… What must be avoided at all cost is a show trial.  A special tribunal in Iraq, with strong international participation, would be the only correct way of holding such an explosive trial and still stick to the rules of just ice.”


"The Saddam Case"


Foreign affairs writer Gerhard Plott wrote in liberal Der Standard (12/16):  “The problem is that Iraqi criminal law does not recognize crimes such as genocide or crimes against humanity; the country does not have a strong rule of law; and the question arises of whether impartial judges for Saddam’s case can actually be found in Iraq. The conclusion is that a trial in Iraq would, in human terms, hardly be fair, as the verdict would be pretty obvious from the start: Saddam would be hanged.… An alternative to a trial in Iraq would be the new International Criminal Court, which has been operating in The Hague since 2002, like the Yugoslavia Tribunal. This would certainly be the most elegant solution, if it weren’t for the fact that the U.S. does not recognize this court.”


BELGIUM:  "An International Court In Iraq"


Rik Van Cauwelaert opined in liberal weekly Knack (12/17):  "The trial of Saddam should be a catharsis and must take place in Iraq before an international court that includes Arab judges.  No other kind of trial will have credibility in the Arab world.  The trial should be a catharsis, but it may also become an embarrassing exercise for the United States--and for the Europeans who, in not such a distant past, sold enough military equipment to Saddam Hussein to unleash an Apocalypse in the Middle East....  Pending the trial of Saddam, the United States--preferably together with the UN and the European partners--must start the reconstruction of Iraq."


"Saddam Should Be Tried, But Not Sentenced To Death"


Baudouin Loos in reflected in left-of-center Le Soir (12/16): "The question of who will try Saddam is an important one, as this trial will carry a huge symbolic weight, for Iraq, for the region, and for the world. Let us be clear: the tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein and his band cannot be suspected of partiality, of hastiness, or of prejudice. The Iraqis, who are Saddam’s main victims, must play a central role. For them, this trial would be a catharsis....  And how about the verdict? Although there probably won’t be any doubt about Saddam’s guilt, should we renounce our values and human rights, or should we refuse to sentence to death a man who committed so many crimes? Yes, we should refuse to sentence Saddam to death. There should be no exception to our opposition to death penalty, even if this could scandalize the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Iranian, and other victims of Saddam Hussein, who would find it fair that Saddam be subjected to the same expeditious methods as the ones he inflicted upon them.  Lastly, it is likely that the various direct and indirect complicities that Saddam enjoyed will be mentioned during the trial. The West will probably not come out with an increased stature. It does not deserve it, in fact.”


"Trusting The Iraqis"


Foreign editor Gerald Papy in independent La Libre Belgique editorialized (12/16):  “Two controversies have surfaced since Saddam Hussein’s arrest. The first is about the images--which some considered humiliating--of the fallen dictator; the second is about the trial of one the cruelest dictator of the 20th century.  It seems that the decision to air the images of Saddam Hussein after his arrest does not respect the Third Geneva Convention, which prohibits exposing prisoners to public curiosity.… The impact of these images among Arab populations will probably be harmful. The U.S. Administration should have been more humble--didn’t it urge U.S. media not to show images of captured U.S. soldiers last spring?--and more cautious, as Arab people have already--rightfully so or not--enough reasons to be hostile to the Americans.  Washington is much more discreet about Saddam Hussein’s trial. Of course, one should not expect the world leading superpower, which did its utmost to shield its citizens from the ICC, to gently hand over its public enemy number two to international justice. Yet, George Bush’s suggestion to create an Iraqi court that would be based on the tribunals that were set up for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda is somewhat reassuring. Let us hope that this idea materializes. If Saddam Hussein were tried by Iraqis, that could have a liberating and redemptive effect after decades of dictatorship and impunity.”


BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA:  "Things Will Not Be The Same”


Mirjana Skoko commented in Croation language, moderate circulation Dnevni list (12/15):  “Saddam Hussein’s capture will mark not only yesterday but the whole year 2003. We still have to wait and see what will change, but one thing is sure that in America for Bush things will not be the same.  World’s analysts can not forecast the changes in Iraq after this capture.…I do not know if it is good to compare ‘domestic war criminals' with Saddam, or maybe it is all the same.… It is strange that out of many U.S. services not even one managed to track the letters that Saddam wrote to his wife and son. It is strange that no one was able to track his visits. Common people say was not able or was not willing to do that. It is the same story like the one with Radovan (Karadzic). Maybe Americans are offering millions for the heads of war criminals only to justify their stay? It seams that in Iraq a time had come for capturing Saddam. It is a question when and will something similar happen in BiH."


CROATIA:  "Use Of (Arrested) Saddam"


Danko Plevnik stated in Split-based Government-owned Slobodna Dalmacija (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam is a message to the entire world that the American visible hand is over the international rule of law (ICC) which the U.S. has rejected because it is inefficient (U.N.).  From now on, every dictator must fear that he will be deposed, and every democrat, if everything else will fail, may be proclaimed a dictator.  Even though dispirited Democrats in the U.S. claim that since 'we have Saddam, we will have Bush for another four years,' I believe that Saddam has been arrested too early in relation to timing of the American Presidential elections (November 2004)....  All these illegitimate actions do not reduce claims of Saddam's atrocities, and the need to bring him before the all-Iraqi or partly Iraqi justice.  That's why the mother of all questions remains who the new circumstances after Saddam's incarceration have been created for?  For the Iraqi people?"


 CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Captured Hussein"


Ondrej Neff commented in the center-right daily Lidove noviny (12/16):  "It would be really a good thing if Hussein were to be tried by a civilized court and not be sentenced to death....  Killing Hussein could make him a martyr, but a dictator sitting in slippers and striped pajamas in a cell is the best recipe to strip him of all his charisma."


"They Found The Criminal They Will Find A Judge As Well"


Jan Jandourek wrote in the leading, centrist daily MF Dnes (12/16): "Saddam is responsible for a lot of bad things.  Who should judge him for that?… It is most likely that the Iraqis will try Saddam.  This would be the best psychological step for the coalition, which is probably worth it regardless the undoubted security risks.  And it would also be necessary to overlook that the dictator might be sentenced to death, which Europe is no longer accustomed to.  But advantages of such a trial are apparent.  Saddam wronged mainly the Iraqis so therefore they would feel the satisfaction and the prestige of newly established Iraqi structures would grow, if the trial takes place in Iraq."


IRELAND:  "Bringing Saddam Hussein To Justice"


The center-left Irish Times declared (12/16):  "President Bush...believes Iraqis themselves must be centrally involved in any trial, a principle that has widespread support. But there are many problems involved in putting it into practice. After decades of brutal dictatorship there is precious little legal expertise available in Iraq to mount such a trial....  A fair and open trial in which Saddam Hussein faces clear-cut charges and has the opportunity to defend himself will make its own contribution to legitimising democracy and the rule of law in post-Saddam Iraq. It will also help prevent the former dictator becoming a martyr in the eyes of his former supporters. The best way to ensure international credibility is to draw on the expertise built up in other war crimes trials and by the United Nations Security Council, which has organised and mandated them....  The Bush administration's attitudes to the UN Security Council and to international law have been deeply ambiguous throughout the Iraq crisis. For these reasons Mr Bush's welcome commitment to a process that will stand international scrutiny should be handled very carefully by his administration, if U.S. motives and interests are not to be misinterpreted after Saddam's capture. Full UN involvement, including the appointment of international judges to work with Iraqis in a tribunal, would be the best way to avoid that."


"Let Justice Be Seen"


The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized (12/16):  "Saddam must indeed have justice. And the people he ruled so cruelly must have justice.... The more immediate problem is whether an independent, expert, fair court can try him for his internal crimes and meet the test of international opinion.  It seems improbable--especially if done under the aegis of the 'governing council' as proposed--but it can be done with American help and goodwill. The U.S. should not interfere or dictate, but should hold free elections and lay the foundations for credible government and a credible judicial process.  The conduct of the trial itself must be credible. Secret hearings would wreck its standing in the Arab world. So would attempts to conceal Western (and other) complicity in earlier times.  The Iraqi people are entitled to know just how the monster was created.... And while they work, the Americans also have a job to do.  The Iraqis must hope that they can take Mr Bush's promise to stay the course at face value. Saddam's capture removes only one obstacle. To scuttle at this time would be disastrous. The U.S. owes it to the country it invaded to keep the promise."


KOSOVO: "The Fall Of Leader Is Just A Door To Purgatory"  


Deputy editor in chief of the leading independent, mass circulation Koha Ditore, Agron Bajrami wrote (12/16): “After Saddam’s capture, many in the world now expect and believe that in one of the next weekends the same will happen to Usama Bin Laden as well....  And the Sunday’s photo from Iraq, like the one of the shackled Milosevic in front of the Hague prison doors, has carried the powerful message: that nobody is eternal or untouchable.  But there is another lesson drawn from the arrests of criminals like Saddam and Milosevic: It is not sufficient to defeat a leader if the policy he pursued and promoted is not defeated as well. Just like Milosevic’s surrender to the Hague did not bring about the denazification and automatic democratization of Serbia, so the capture of Saddam does not mean the end of troubles in Iraq. And in the Balkans this lesson has not been regarded at all.... In Iraq too, on Monday it was proven that the fall of the leader is just an entrance to the purgatory: in less than 24 hours from the extraordinary news about the capture of the dictator, two suicide attacks were carried out in Baghdad. To be even clearer: both Saddam and Milosevic had many figures behind them, most of them unknown and anonymous, who kept the terror in power undisputedly; from party soldiers to government soldiers to combat soldiers. And these should be treated as well. Somehow. Otherwise the anonymous armies of the jailed dictators will strike again....  However, and despite the leader was unmasked in one weekend, the stripping of the policy that he left behind will take a long time, very long time, a great caution about the victims and a zero compromise with the army of anonyms.”


NORWAY: "The Mother Of All Trials"


In the independent VG senior foreign news reporter Per Olav Odegard commented (12/16):  “Saddam Hussein has lost everything but his megalomania. He has one final role to play, as the main character in the TV drama 'The mother of all trials.'… If Iraq is to heal its wounds, it is of the greatest importance that the process against Saddam is carried out in a correct, internationally accepted way.… It is most important that the process, for everyone who will see it, documents the genocide of the Kurds, the use of chemical weapons against Kurds and Iranians, WMD against civilians in the south of Iraq and the hundreds of thousands who suffered and died in his prisons because of the megalomaniac persecution insanity. Then we may, once again, ask ourselves why we let this happen.”


"Free From Fear"


In the social democratic Dagsavisen, foreign news editor Erik Sagflaat commented (12/16):                “Christmas came early for President George W. Bush this year.  He is unlikely to receive a greater gift than the arrest of Saddam Hussein. But the gift may prove costly when Iraqis, free from fear that the tyrant may return, will demand a quicker end of the occupation and the right to govern themselves.… It is by no means certain that the insurgency will be reduced in the coming months.… It is important that the trial is conducted in a way that convinces everybody.... Such an openness will also mean a certain price for the U.S. The CIA supported the coups against the left-oriented head of state Abdul Karim Kassen in 1963, which brought the Baath party to power.… Everything points to an exciting trial.  If it comes about.”


POLAND:  "What Kind Of Trial?"


Leopold Unger wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (12/16): “That is the end of the dictator--but not the end of the dictatorship. The dictatorship will come to an end only when the dictator is sentenced by an independent court for the dictatorship’s crimes.... Who should try Saddam and how is not merely a legal question. One thing obvious now is what court should not try this case.  It can be neither a makeshift court set up by the provisional authorities established by the U.S., nor an International Tribunal, nor any court abroad, least of all in the U.S. What it comes to is a court operating in Iraq, but not an Iraqi one (they do not know what a democratic judiciary system is); it must be a mixed international body to judge crimes committed not only on Iraqis, but on the citizens of Iran or Kuwait as well.... This trial must be conducted with respect for all principles of democratic order and the right of defense.... Only such a court can issue a verdict for crimes against mankind - acting in the name, and in the interest, of mankind.”


PORTUGAL:  "Judgment Of Saddam Has To Be Rapid"


In his weekly column in leading financial Diário Económico (synthesizing commentary broadcast Sunday evening on top-audience private television channel TVI), influential center-right analyst Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted (12/16): "To judge him in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, to which the United Nations belongs could be an intelligent way of not having either the USA or Iraq lead the process, of bringing Saddam Hussein to Europe and making them responsible for the judgement.... Without a doubt, that would be a way for the North Americans to charm European public opinion. One thing, however, is certain.  The judgment has to be rapid. The more time the trial of Saddam takes, the more difficult it will be for the future Iraqi authorities to stabilize the country politically."


SLOVENIA:  "Broken Pride And Backbone"


Barbara Surk opined in left-of-center Delo (12/17):  “Protests in support of Saddam Hussein indicate that it will be difficult to do justice in Iraq...even in case the dictator--accused of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity--is sentenced (to death) in a fair trial. Arab leaders are wisely silent. Namely, trials and justice also have little in common in the Middle East....  It is likely that Arab public opinion will see details about crimes committed by the Baath regime as 'western propaganda.' Therefore, it is in the American interest that Iraqi [judges] hear the case. It is in Iraq’s interest is that Americans try Saddam Hussein because there seems to be no Iraqi judge who would sentence him to death.  American justice will not be acceptable to the Iraqis, and Iraqi justice will be unacceptable to the Americans. The former dictator is sitting where he and other leaders in the region--who receive American support for manipulation of elections--should have been put ten years ago....  But the American Authorities and their local collaborators in the Iraqi Council are in a [difficult] situation....  The number of people who do not want Saddam to hang is not small in Iraq....  After the capture of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is closer to a civil war than to democracy. Americans may have no alternative but to...divide the country into three autonomous units....  It seems that the Americans are no longer in a hurry to leave....  At least for some time, Washington can draw Iraq’s borders and 'democratize' the region according to its own and Israel’s interests.”


SPAIN:  "A Fair Trial For Saddam"


Left-of-center El País urged (12/17):  "Saddam Hussein should have a fair trial, with all guarantees, and without the death penalty, regardless of the magnitude of the horrors of his crimes.  Attaining this is vital for giving the newly rebuilt Iraq the rule of law it has never had....  For now, Saddam should be treated as a prisoner of war, since he is in the hands of the occupying power.  This implies respect for certain rights.  The Geneva Convention and its protocols do not make him immune to being tried, but do require that he be protected from 'public curiosity', a rule that the U.S. failed to observe....  The trial may be embarrassing for France, Germany and the U.S...which supplied Saddam's regime with arms and pushed him against Khomeini's Iran.  The trial of the former dictator and his collaborators should serve, first of all, to give redress to the victims, who number tens or hundreds of thousands.  But it should also serve to shed some light on all this past as a lesson for the future, instead of covering up geopolitical disgraces....  A fair trial might become not just a symbol, but a a precedent for Iraq and the whole region."


"In Iraq, By Iraqi Judges"


Conservative La Razon explained (12/16): "It's no secret that the trial of the dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, has an importance that exceeds the borders of his country. But, precisely because of that, (Saddam) must be tried by his own compatriots, in an absolutely public way that is credible for all the Arab world, where the figure of the tyrant still has huge prestige among the most disadvantages classes....  The best and most practical way to try him is through the new Iraqi institutions of justice. Because it would be a paradox if Saddam Hussein winds up facing an international court that has not been recognized by the United States....  What's essential is for the tyrant to answer for his crimes in a court and under a process with the guarantees that he always denied to his victims."


"Iraq After Saddam"


Centrist La Vanguardia contended (12/16): "A trial with all the formal guarantees--is such a trial possible in Iraq today?--may illustrate the frightening crimes for which Saddam is responsible...but it will also make clear his nature as an instrumental ally of many Western countries, basically as a counterweight to the Iranian regime of the Ayatollahs.  Scrupulous respect for international legality has these servitudes, as is being revealed in the endless trial to Slobodan Milosevic.  On the other hand, attitudes with respect to capital punishment have significantly changed in the almost 60 years since an international court condemned a number of Nazi leaders to death.  The circumstances surrounding Saddam's arrest seem to refute categorically the theory that it was he who led the resistance to the occupying forces or inspired the strategy of the terrorist attacks....  The symbolic nature of Saddam's arrest will not go unnoticed among the population, for an end has been put to the terror he continued to inspire and to speculations on his possible return to power."


SWEDEN: "The Dictator In Baghdad Is No Longer Immune"


Per Ahlin observed in national, centrist Dagens Nyheter (12/16): "But there is a question that never had to be seriously considered in Iraq: would some form of amnesty really have been the worst alternative? If Saddam had been able to leave the country -- and it had been possible to avoid a war -- would that have been a wrong and indeed reprehensible action by the country that accepted him, and the rest of the world that accepted this immunity? I do not think so.... For Saddam, the matter has already been resolved. He will be brought to court.... The most likely option seems to be holding the trial in an Iraqi court. But as in Sierra Leone, there might be a mixture where the international community assists the national authorities in what will necessarily be a long and complicated process....  It is naturally positive that legal proceedings against Saddam can be expected. But, in my opinion at least, why is the question of where the trial should take place even a subject of discussion? It should be self-evident. The International Criminal Court -- which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called 'a gift of hope to future generations'-- is already in place. It is ready to start working, and it is difficult to imagine a better case for it than Iraq.  But this will probably not happen. It must be admitted that there is limited hope of this court ever becoming a functioning part of ordinary diplomatic life. It exists, and that is an important step. But a court cannot survive simply by existing. U.S. opposition is perhaps the biggest problem. President George W. Bush has clearly declared that Washington has no intention of ratifying the treaty, and there is a lurking fear that the tribunal will be nothing but a toothless paper tiger if the United States does not take part. But a little wishful thinking cannot do any harm. Saddam before this court would have been a milestone.... It would have been historic in the true sense of the word."


TURKEY:  "The End Of Saddam--And A New beginning?"


Sami Kohen observed in mass-appeal Milliyet (12/17):  "The dramatic finale for Saddam marks the end of his 35-year-long era.  This is a victory for the Bush administration, but it does not necessarily ensure the realization of U.S. goals for Iraq more generally.... The legal process will also have an impact on Iraq's transition.  If Saddam is to be tried in Iraq, it would be best that the UN or another international organization be given a supervisory status.  Otherwise the trial will be controversial and will provide an opportunity for pro-Saddam groups in Iraq to make it into a political show.  There are ways to prevent more negative developments from occurring in the post-Saddam era.  The U.S. as well as the IGC have most of the responsibility at this point.  Iraq is still waiting to return to normal daily life.  The people of Iraq continue to suffer from daily problems.  Security is still lacking.  These are the immediate issues for the coalition forces to deal with.  The Iraqi administrators are supposed to fill in the political-ideological gap in the post-Saddam period with a new vision and the establishment of a new Iraqi identity."


"Saddam Wants To Live Through The Final Act"


Fatih Altayli commented in the mass appeal Hurriyet (12/16): “Everybody labels Saddam as a coward because he did not choose to commit suicide.  This might seem to be true on the surface.  Yet when you look at the situation from the political aspect, Saddam may be acting deliberately.  Saddam as a ‘live captive’ can be a more troublesome and complex issue for the U.S. than Saddam’s dead body.  The U.S. has announced that Saddam will be tried.  We just don’t know how and where.  First of all, the U.S. does not recognize the International War Criminals Tribunal.   Secondly, what kind of charges will he be subjected to if he is tried in Iraq?  Let’s not forget the fact that the U.S. failed to prove any of the claims that provided the ground for the Iraq war.”


UKRAINE:  "Responsible Person; Logical End To Saddam's Era"


Victor Zamiatin wrote in centrist Den (12/16):  "The apprehension of Saddam would, of course, have made a much stronger impression some two-three-four months ago. Now the issue is rather what will come next.  Iraq can become a testing ground for whether the western understanding of human rights and way of life can take root in an Islamic society....  It is difficult to imagine that Saddam alone directed all the demonstrations, resistance and terrorist attacks from the cellar where he was found.  The future destiny of the dictator, whatever it is--just like in the case of Milosevic--will have only a fringe influence on further developments.  The task for the international community, in fact, now becomes more difficult--it is especially important now, when there is no leader of 'old Iraq,' to avoid sliding toward fighting the Iraqis, to be able to take their feelings into account and to practically prove that Iraqis themselves will build their future....  It is still unknown how the arrest of the Iraqi leader will be interpreted in the Muslim countries of the Middle East.  His martyrdom can be used for  instigating opposition to the West and for the ideological refueling of the resistance movement in Iraq.  Equally likely is that the apprehension of Saddam can become an argument that will cause Muslim regimes to revise their conservative foundations that are very far from democracy."




IRAQ: "The End Of A Dark Chapter"


Commentary by Mahdi al-Hafiz in  Al-Nahdah, a daily affiliated with the Iraqi Independent Democrats Grouping, led by Adnan Pachachi, averred (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein does not only mark the end of a despotic and oppressive ruler but also the end of an era during which the ruler resorted to all forms of deviant and ugly practices. It marked the end of an era and an arrogant ruler that oppressed a whole nation as he played havoc with the people's wealth and interests, squandered the destiny of the homeland, and threw his people into destructive wars....  Perhaps the most important thing that we can deduce from this event is that we have to build a society that does not allow a return to the era of injustice, tyranny, and oppression. We have to build a society where no preference is given to anyone over another, a society that belongs to all. This means insuring a suitable climate to achieve national reconciliation and concord among all the social sectors in order to build the new experiment. We have to close the chapter of internal fighting and seek to build a democratic society based on justice and equality.  Perhaps the best way to express this aspiration is by trying the symbols of the age of tyranny, especially Saddam Hussein, in a public and fair trial whose aim is not revenge but upholding justice and being fair to those who were treated unjustly. Perhaps the capture of Saddam brought justice to the millions of his victims of killed, orphans, and bereaved mothers. Such a trial will restore justice."


ISRAEL:  "A Media Victory"


Rogel Alpher wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (12/17):  "He deserves it.  Morally, there are plenty of justifications for humiliating Saddam Hussein a bit in front of the world.  He is a psychopathic mass murderer.  But the American media treatment of his capture is an Orwellian nightmare.... As a result of the images, the humiliation of Saddam appears to be a goal unto itself.  Ridiculously, it now justifies the entire war effort, even though if Secretary of State Colin Powell had gone to the UN Security Council to claim that America must invade Iraq to turn Saddam into a homeless man, public opinion would have been shocked and outraged.  There is no evading the feeling that the well-oiled propaganda machinery managed in this case to rewrite history and that public opinion has bought it.  Fortunately, Saddam really is a bastard.  But such passive public opinion is a horrifying sight to behold."


"The Death Penalty"


Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (12/16):  "Saddam Hussein's capture by the U.S. army would, undoubtedly, be noted as one of the most impressive victories of the world's greatest superpower and its president, George Bush....  The crimes and murders committed by Saddam Hussein oblige him to be tried in a special court for war criminals that holds the authority to sentence him to the death penalty.  And we hope that those responsible for Saddam Hussein's trial will act appropriately."


WEST BANK:  "What's After Saddam's Capture"


Ahmed Majdali said in independent Al-Ayyam (12/17):  "Looking closer into President Bush's speech, one would realize that Washington intends to maintain its presence in Iraq and will not take advantage of the dramatic development of Saddam's capture to expedite [its]...withdrawal from Iraq.  It is thus for certain that the war in Iraq will go on for a long time and will accentuate the American presence as an occupying power, a fact that will legitimize all resistance attacks whether they are carried out by Saddam's loyalists and radical groups or by mainstream Iraqi forces."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Before Death Penalty"


Deputy Editor Abdulwahab Badrkhan wrote in London's pan-Arab Al-Hayat (12/18):  "The Americans, through the trial of Saddam, want to divert attention from the game of power transfer without doing it actually.  Who told you that Saddam, since the collapse of his regime, was not useful for the Americans?  Saddam is determined to serve their interests to the last moment and they are also determined to fully use his services to the last point. For that reason, he has not showed resistance and they have not killed him."


"Leaders Of Revenge And Mockery"


Abdulaziz Al-Jarallh wrote in Riyadh's conservative Al-Riyadh (12/17):  "Nobody wanted to see Saddam Hussein in that picture. When I say Saddam Hussein I don't mean Saddam's actions, crimes and mistakes, but I mean Saddam Hussein, the Arab who was leading an Arab and Muslim country, in American custody....  It was a humiliating picture for the Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims.  We wish he could have been captured by Iraqi troops, police, the Governing Council or militant groups.  But to capture him in that humiliating way was an insult to what remains of Iraqi and Arab dignity....  The spirit of revenge, which was expressed by the members of the Iraqi Governing Council, was an unhelpful attitude and tendency and does not lead to the road the Iraqi people have chosen, the road of freedom and democracy."


"The Lesson Of Saddam"


Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette (12/15):  "Those attacking the foreign forces in Iraq and the Iraqi politicians who are seen as puppets of the American occupation are not all Saddam Hussein loyalists as some claim. Analysts believe that there are over 30 separate groups engaged in attacking occupation forces and some speculate that since Saddam is gone those who didn't want to be associated with him will be encouraged to join the resistance which will take a more nationalistic form....  Meanwhile, the capture of the Iraqi leader alive should be exploited for more than just to give U.S. President George Bush's election campaign a much needed boost....  It is a shame this great lesson had to be learned through the services of an ugly occupation.  We hope that the security protecting the courtroom from a sudden devastating blast will not be American.  Hopefully, Saddam Hussein will be tried in a democratic Iraq, so that the lesson is learned."


ALGERIA:  "Frustration And Terror"


Deputy Editor-in-Chief Mahmoud Belhimer wrote in leading Arabic-language El Khabar (12/15):  "Perhaps I cannot describe the frustration and terror that most of the Arab countries have experienced after watching Saddam in the hands of the American forces, but the shock of Saddam’s (capture) is not greater than the colonialization of a whole country by the United States of America and their allies....  The Arab countries must watch all that is happening in Iraq....  They must also draw lessons (from Saddam’s fate) that ‘leaders,’ who do not have the legitimate support of the people on whose behalf they talk, will face worse than what happened to Saddam and his collaborators.”


"Jubilation And Humiliation"


French-language pro-opposition L’Expression opined (12/15):  "America is jubilant, and the Arabs are humiliated after the pathetic capture of Saddam Hussein.  If the end of Saddam had to be with such conditions, would it not have been better for him to accept, at the beginning, surrender and exile with his family, avoiding, thus, the terror of a war for his people?  Everybody will keep in mind an image of a coward.  Arabs, Iraqis, and Palestinians will not forgive him for not choosing the option of sacrifice, by swallowing arsenic, for example.”


BAHRAIN:  "Saddam's Trial Must Be Civilized, Transparent"


Waleed Noueid wrote in independent Al-Wasat (12/15):  "Capturing Saddam marks a new beginning for Iraq.  This is the reason that his trial must be handled in a civilized manner, transparent, with a sense of historical responsibility.  If this happens, Iraq will have overcome its ordeal and it will become a free and contemporary country that we can be proud of."


JORDAN:  "An Obscene Day!"


Hilmi Al-Asmar stated in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (12/15):  “It was an obscene Arab day.  The Arabs, or what’s left of them, should have bowed their heads in indignation and declared yesterday, December 14, a black day in their modern history.  It is the day when murderers and criminals became ‘brothers’ and beloved ones.  It is the day when the rats that speak Arabic dared express their gratitude to Bremer and to the ‘American brothers’ and called him a dear friend, because they captured a historical and extraordinary Arab leader, who, not long ago, spoke on behalf of millions of Arabs and Muslims and expressed what is deep in their hearts!....  Had the Iraqis themselves arrested their leader, I would not have shed a tear for him.  Had the sons of Al-Rafidayn rebelled and dragged him dead in the streets of Baghdad, we would have said that his people have that right.  But for a gang of murderers wearing the uniform of the American army to capture him, that is an obscene day.  This is because the murderers who captured him deserve to be put on trial before those very people they are stomping in the alleyways of Baghdad and before those who are dying on daily basis in Palestine....  Saddam Hussein was a dictator?  Maybe.  Has on his hands the blood of innocent lives?  Maybe.  But whoever amongst you, who is suffocating your people with oppression, is without sin, then let him cast the first stone at him!”


MOROCCO:  "Who Will Try Saddam?"


Aziza Nait Sibaha noted in semi-official Le Matin du Sahara (12/16):  "Mission accomplished, or almost for Bush's family, whose son has just finished the job his father started more than a decade ago....  But when, how and for which crimes will Saddam be tried?....  The popular solution would be to try him in Iraq, but a newly-created special court in a country that doesn't even have a constitution yet cannot handle such an important case. And if international expertise were called upon to legitimize the trial? Any foreign meddling, and specifically American meddling, would compromise the trial's impartiality."


TUNISIA:  "The Capture Of Saddam Won't Change Anything"


Independent French-language weekly Tunis-Hebdo stated (12/15):  "Bush marked an important psychological point, which is likely to give him a push for reelection. But the bill to be paid for this victory risks being very heavy. Nothing will change on the field in Iraq, where the GI's are put in a difficult situation a resistance. that seems to have no direct link with the `Leader'- Saddam - who was living secretly since Baghdad's fall.  However his credit is to have provided weapons and funding to the guerillas before the fall.  Eight months later, it is another generation that takes over to chase the intruders from Mesopotamia. Now the race to succeed Saddam is truly on.  For now one question needs to be answered, where and by whom will Saddam be put on trial?"


UAE:  "Let Saddam Be Prosecuted In A Civilized Way"


Aysha Al Marri wrote in semi-official Al Ittihad (12/17):  "Good what he did, he comforted us from illusive heroism.  Good what he did, so he will remain an image of a coward tyrant.  Why the crying about the mercy bullet that he did not shoot into himself, since death is comfort?  Let him remain alive so he will be prosecuted in a civilized way; let him be a model for other Arab executioners.  Let history fold another page of bloody history written in blood and gun-powder, and the image of a humiliated old man, not an image of a tyrant will remain in the memories."


"Saddam's Crimes"


Abu-Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab declared (12/17):  "If the U.S. wants to prosecute Saddam for crimes he committed, they will not find such crimes since he did not go to war against the U.S., did not possess nuclear weapons, did not kill Americans and did not spread terrorism in the world (as far as American standards are concerned).  But the Iraqi people could prosecute him for thousands and thousands of reasons and for a lot of crimes that were committed against them, starting with the unjustified wars and the executions with no prosecution and ending by his government's tyrannical attitude towards the people." 




AUSTRALIA:  "Meeting Barbarity With Justice Will Be A Trial For International Law”


Andrew Byrnes and Hilary Charlesworth held in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (12/17):  "It is not yet clear what type of court will be used to try Saddam Hussein for the atrocities that he and his regime inflicted on the Iraqi people and their neighbors. President, George Bush, has suggested that it will be a primarily Iraqi tribunal, but one that can withstand international scrutiny....  Any tribunal must satisfy international standards of impartiality and competence and observe due process. While the defendants must be assured a fair opportunity to present their case, it would be undesirable for a trial to drag on for years or to become a forum for political grandstanding.... The opportunity to put Saddam on trial for the atrocities committed over the years is profoundly significant. By learning the lessons of past tribunals, we have the opportunity to respond to barbarity with justice, dispensed in accordance with the international rule of law.”


"After Saddam, A New Beginning"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald stated (12/16):  “The capture of Saddam Hussein is of enormous symbolic importance and potentially far-reaching in its consequences.  It does not solve the problems of postwar Iraq. It is, however, powerfully liberating to the people of Iraq since it removes every last fear that the tyrant might somehow return....  To remove their last shred of doubt, it is far better that he has been captured alive, to be seen by his people as a ruined man, utterly without power. It is also fitting that Saddam should be delivered to the Iraqi people....  How Saddam might be brought to trial, however, is not yet clear....  It is an enormous undertaking to bring freedom to a people oppressed by dictatorship. But the capture of their erstwhile oppressor is a powerful demonstration to the Iraqi people of America's commitment and capacity to carry through what it begins. All, including Australia, who have joined in this enterprise and have so much at stake in its success, must now hope as much as the Iraqi people themselves to see this dramatic closing of a chapter mark a new and hopeful beginning.”


CHINA:  "How The U.S. Will Deal With Saddam"


Professor Peng Cheng from the Foreign Affairs College said in an interview in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (12/18):  "I think the U.S. will definitely try Saddam and sentence him to the death penalty.  It will not bring him before the International Court in The Hague because there is no death penalty in that court.  Additionally, the U.S. will not try Saddam in Iraq because then Saddam might have the chance to escape....  More likely the U.S. will transfer Saddam to the U.S., detain him for a while and study his trial questions....  The U.S. always does battle with anyone it thinks is wrong, regardless of evidence.  Therefore it is not important for the U.S. whether or not Saddam admits his crimes."


"Now That Saddam Is Gone, Return Power To The Iraqi People"


Hu Xuan commented in the official English-language China Daily (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam could also pose a legal challenge for the United States which has to decide how to put the former Iraqi leader on trial and convince the world that the process is impartial.  The capture is a watershed that should prompt Washington to speed turnover of power to the Iraqi people and end the violence-plagued occupation of that country."


CHINA (MACAU SAR): "Capturing Saddam Is Conducive To Stabilizing Iraqi Situation"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (12/15):  "The capture of Saddam has dispelled Iraqi fears that he would return.  Those who were unhappy with his rule can now stand up and support the interim Iraqi Governing Council.  This will bring order to Iraqi society.  From this angle, the capture of Saddam is a positive step.  However, we cannot say that capturing Saddam is a great achievement in the war on terrorism, because it has nothing to do with that.  The U.S. still has not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and, therefore, U.S. involvement is still illegal....  To what degree Saddam can receive a fair trial in Iraq will be a test of U.S. respect for Iraq's sovereignty.  If the interim Iraqi Governing Council can sentence Saddam for his 'war crimes,' it will help counter the charge that the U.S. has 'invaded' Iraq.  It may be one of the reasons the U.S. is allowing Iraq to try Saddam."


TAIWAN:  "Iraqi Situation In Post-Saddam Era Is Still Not Optimistic"


Centrist, pro-status quo China Times observed (12/16):  "Saddam's capture will of course greatly help President Bush's campaign, but the U.S. still has to face two thorny issues: First, will the attacks against the U.S. military by Iraqi militia and guerrillas be reduced in the wake of Saddam's capture?  Second, Bush must pull the U.S. military out of Iraq as early as possible and let the Iraqi people rule their own country when the political situation in Iraq gets back on the right track.  If the U.S. fails to do that, not only will the political situation in Iraq never stabilize, but the U.S. will also be labeled as an invader of Iraq and its sovereignty....  Saddam will be put on trial by a special tribunal set up by the Iraqi Governing Council, and he will have to face many charges.  This trial will definitely draw the whole world's attention.  No matter what the final judgment is, the key issue is that the U.S. must not interfere with the trial.  Saddam's destiny must be decided by the Iraqi people themselves. Not long ago, Bush announced that the U.S. would promote democracy in Iraq and would not interfere with Iraq's judicial system.  This is the first step for democracy and rule of law to take root in Iraq."


SOUTH KOREA:  "For Peace And Stability In Iraq"


Government-owned Daehan Maeil opined (12/16):  "Washington should act wisely in deciding Saddam's fate in order not to arouse unnecessary anger and humiliation in the Arab world. It would be better for the U.S. to allow Saddam to be tried in accordance with international laws, rather than punish him arbitrarily.  In particular, Washington should use Saddam's arrest as an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation over the Iraqi issue.  If the U.S. abandons its go-it-alone attitude and cooperates with the international community to speed up efforts to rehabilitate the war-torn country, it could win the confidence of the Iraqi people and the Arab world."


"Seizing Saddam Hussein"


The independent, English-language Korea Herald noted (12/16):  " The Coalition forces have failed to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Bush's primary reason for going to war....  Bush must now believe that, by illustrating the atrocities Saddam committed against his own people through a war crimes trial, he can offer sufficient justification for the war.  Yet there is the issue of how the trial should be carried out. Members of the Iraqi Governing Council assert that a public trial should be conducted by an Iraqi tribunal after July 1, when the U.S. occupying administration is scheduled to end. But many in the United States, and elsewhere, seek to have a trial conducted under international law....  The Iraqi people should decide what to do with the captured dictator....  That stabilization process will definitely need the assistance of Coalition forces to eliminate armed resistance. But it also seems to be an appropriate time to begin discussing in earnest how to augment the participation of the international community in the rehabilitation of Iraq." 


"What The U.S. Should Do After Saddam's Capture"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun said (12/16):  "Justification of the U.S.'s invasion of Iraq has no relevance to the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.  The U.S.'s rationale for the war in Iraq - Iraq's development and possession of weapons of mass destruction and its support for terrorism--was found to be a complete fabrication long ago.  Even if Washington tried to highlight the brutal dictatorship of Saddam during his trial, it would be difficult for it to remove international criticism for its invasion of the country. Furthermore, attacks by Iraqi resistance forces will not lessen as long as its occupation continues....  If the U.S. really wants a smooth resolution of the Iraqi issue, it should immediately hand over all authority related to the stabilization and rehabilitation of Iraq, to say nothing of the trial of Saddam, to the UN.  The only way to heal the rifts in the international community over the Iraqi issue is by internationalizing the issue as much as possible."


INDONESIA:  "Saddam, Bush, And Sharon"


Riza Sihbudi commented in Independent Koran Tempo (12/18):  "Indeed, it is justified to bring Saddam Hussein to the international tribunal for the two ‘war crimes’ he committed: unilaterally annulling the 'Algiers Accord' in 1975 and launching major attacks on Iran in September 1980....  However, what Bush has done is far more brutal and cruel than what Saddam did; not only did he kill thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, but he also caused misery to millions of people from the two countries....  Sharon also committed crimes against humanity...and Israel under Sharon’s authority is the biggest threat to world peace....  If Saddam Hussein is indicted on three main charges: as a terrorists because he killed civilians, as a criminal of war because he broke international law, and as a threat to the world because he developed WMD, then the three charges should also be imposed on Bush and Sharon. The world would be safer, more peaceful, fairer, and more democratic if they all, Saddam, Bush, and Sharon were brought to the International Tribunal for crimes against humanity.”


 "Iraqi Issues Could Only Be Resolved By Iraq"


Leading independent Kompas maintained (12/16):  “The capture of President Saddam Hussein is anticlimactic of the his eight-month long hunt by the U.S. led coalition forces....  To Saddam and his family, the long struggle seems to have ended up worthless. Saddam, who was once so powerful, is finally treated like a prisoner and might face a death sentence.  How tragic.  Certainly the major concern to try Saddam should not relax the criticisms against the U.S. and Britain and their allies for attacking Iraq because thus far they have not been able to prove their charges that Saddam had a WMD program....  Foreign interference could complicate the issue.  Therefore, the immediate withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and a transfer of power to the Iraqis will be the best way to end the crisis.”


"Fate Of Saddam Hussein"


Independent Media Indonesia commented (12/15):  “Saddam was finally captured alive in a bunker made for him.  He looked healthy and showed cooperation during his medical check-up.…  The fall of Iraq and the end of the Saddam Hussein regime reflected more of Bush’s subjective view.  It constituted the arbitrary stance of the leader of a superpower that no one, even the UN, could prevent.  In this perspective Bush should be punished because he has devastated a country without being able to prove its mistake and toppled a leader of a legitimate country through armed force.…  What is clear is that the U.S. does not have any right to punish Saddam.  He should be returned to the Iraqi people and let’s them decide his fate.”


MALAYSIA:  "Non-Iraqis Must Pay For Crimes Too"


The government-influenced English-language Star said (12/16):  "While the tribunal can dish out justice to Saddam for his cruelty on his people, it is such a pity that the body is confined to trying out only Iraqis.  After all, a number of non-Iraqis have committed heinous crimes against the Iraqis and they too should be dragged before a tribunal or court just like Saddam and made to pay for their crimes.  This includes (U.S. President) Bush's father George Bush Senior who was the U.S. President during the 1991 Gulf War.  Saddam (had) announced a total withdrawal of troops and yet U.S. planes bombed cars at both ends of the 96km highway.  Two thousand vehicles were totally destroyed and tens of thousands of people, including fleeing Iraqi soldiers and civilians, were dismembered and scorched to their deaths.  There is also the 12-year long sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War.  It caused severe malnourishment in Iraq and caused about 500,000 deaths.  But can Iraqis hope that parties responsible for this genocide will be brought to justice? If not, it would appear there is no even-handedness in dishing out justice to perpetrators of injustices and crimes on Iraq and its people."


"Iraqis Should Determine The Fate Of Saddam"


Government-influenced, Malay-language Berita Harian averred (12/16):  "The U.S. has finally caught Saddam Hussien, at a time when attacks on its military and the Iraqi police were increasing.  President George W. Bush sees this capture as the end of suffering for the Iraqi people but this is overly optimistic as the security situation is still hard to control.  The Iraqi Council is already setting up a tribunal to try Saddam for crimes against humanity, but Amnesty International has voiced concerns over the impartiality of this tribunal.  The U.S. has not determined if they want to try Saddam or surrender him to the Iraqis.  However the Iraqis should be given the right to determine the manner Saddam is brought to justice....  Saddam should be tried according to international laws....  We hope that the peace Iraq enjoys will be representative of the Iraqi people’s desires, democratic and free. We also hope that Saddam’s capture will open a new era to stability in the Middle East."


SINGAPORE:  "Saddam, At Last" 


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (12/16):  "The test of whether there is really a new order will come only after American and other troops have left.  Iraqis must be ready for the new Iraq by then. This is where Saddam's capture will prove useful. His interrogation and eventual trial will train the searchlight on an era in which the gross abuse of Iraqi human rights was accompanied by Baghdad's emergence as a regional threat, including the unconventional weapons programs that he is suspected to have pursued. Those he has killed cannot be brought back, and Iraq's ruined life will take time to reconstruct, but he needs to be made a lesson of. The lesson is not, of course, the one that he imposed on his people: torture, death and destruction. Rather, he has to be made to speak the truth about what he did. Iraqis and others in the region must see how the truth prevails when a dictatorship is humbled. Saddam's capture will help shed light on Iraq's sad, lost years."


THAILAND:  "Digging Saddam Out Of His Hole"


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (12/16):  “The disagreements over the Iraq war and aftermath aside, the capture of one of the 20th century's most heinous dictators is cause for delight....  Even Mr. Saddam is entitled to legal, acceptable hearings.  There are some who favor taking him to a United Nations tribunal.  There is a massive minefield of procedural problems in that solution, and the new International Criminal Court does not cover the Saddam era.  Since Iraqis were the main victims, they should have the first and most important say in how to proceed. Other nations and peoples--mostly notably Iran, the Kurds and Iraqi Shi'ite refugees--deserve to be heard on this vital issue. No matter the exact court, a fair, public trial is the most fitting punishment for the tyrant who never allowed justice for his citizens.... One must hope the arrest of Mr. Saddam will speed the process of turning all Iraqi affairs over to Iraqis. In the meantime, foreign security and reconstruction forces, whether American, UN or a combination, will be needed for at least a modest period.  It is vital to remember that the goal is not to internationalize the Iraqi conflict. The goal is to turn over all responsibility for all affairs to an elected, accountable government. The only reason to build international support is to help to stabilize the country.  The capture of Mr Saddam is an important starting point."


"Beware Of The Lies"


Business-oriented Thai-language Post Today alleged (12/16):  “The U.S.’ promise to treat Saddam according to international agreements is laughable.  Nothing is gained from such a statement except the U.S. is painting a good image of itself.  When it invaded another country, it didn’t obey any rules whatsoever.  Some interesting points to consider are--what charge will one brought against the former Iraqi leader who tried to maintain his power and defend his own country?  What will be the trial method?  Will Saddam be allowed to consult with his lawyer according to basic human rights?  It will be fair if Saddam is tried by an Iraqi court to face the charge of oppression and abuse he committed during his long reign.  If he must be sent to another court, however, the U.S. president deserves the same treatment.”


VIETNAM:  "That's Just An Illusion"


Bao Son wrote in An Ninh The Gioi, the weekly run by the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security (12/17):  "An individual like Saddam Hussein cannot replace or represent an entire nation that has lost their independence and sovereignty.  Every nation desires to be free and able to construct their own country without depending on instructions from foreign forces.  Therefore, that the U.S. believes the capture of Saddam Hussein 'will put out Iraqi people's resistance' is just an illusion.  Their resistance will end only when they can govern their country themselves."




INDIA:  "End Of A Chapter In Iraq" 


Centrist Agartala (Tripura)-based Bengali-language Dainik Sambad editorialized (12/18):  "Though Saddam has been caught alive he will not be able to avoid his fate. He is destined to get death sentence. Now it remains to be seen how smoothly and dexterously the U.S. can carry it out....  Saddam could not harm the world as Hitler did. But Saddam's brutality toward his countrymen can only be compared to that of Hitler alone....  Still there are dissimilarities between the two. Saddam was lacking in the genius of Hitler. Though the former cherished a malevolent intention of destroying the world he did not dare to do it. Here lies his difference with Hitler. He resembled Hitler in his primordial instinct of killing his rival like a dog....  Again the two differ on the question of dignity. Sensing defeat was inevitable, Hitler had the guts to commit suicide and even incinerate his body. But Saddam has established himself as abominably coward the way he let himself captured....  This certainly nourishes the impression that Saddam had been busy preparing to flee even before the U.S. invasion started."      


"No Change In Iraq" 


An editorial in independent Urdu-language Awam read (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam may help President Bush in averting the political debacle he was headed to meet but it would make no positive difference to the situation in Iraq.  Iraq is not yet out of 'a dark and painful era' as President Bush has pretended, it has rather plunged into a prolonged spell of darkness with no hope of peace to be restored for a long time. After the U.S. was exposed to have forged and fabricated the truth to make a case for invasion, it has been shamelessly trying to justify the destruction of Iraq on the plea of liberating its people from a dictatorship. It is also projecting Saddam's capture so as to divert world attention from the crime of committing aggression against a sovereign country and enslaving its people."


"Trying Saddam" 


Siddharth Varadarajan observed in the centrist Times of India (12/16):  " The newly-established International Criminal Court (ICC) can have no jurisdiction in the matter since neither Iraq nor the U.S. have signed up to its statutes....  The Iraqi Governing Council, put in place by the U.S. occupation forces, has established a tribunal to try Hussein and others for crimes committed over the past two decades.  But as long as the tribunal functions under the censorious eye of the foreign occupier, it will not enjoy the necessary legal and political legitimacy.  In the final analysis, it is only a tribunal set up by an independent Iraq as an expression of its sovereign will that can try the former president and put a closure to what has been a painful period in Iraqi history....   For such a tribunal to be established, it is necessary that the U.S. and Britain end their occupation of Iraq promptly....  Hussein may well be guilty of monstrous crimes, but he is the former commander-in-chief of a country the U.S. illegally invaded. Only the citizens of an Iraq free of foreign occupation have the right to judge them."


"Living Dead" 


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer held (12/16):  "It is necessary that any court set up for this purpose has credibility while Saddam is prevented from using the opportunity to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his followers and denied the chance to acquire a martyr's halo."


"Dealing With Saddam:  International Community Must Step In Now" 


Mumbai-based right-of-center Gujarati-language Mumbai Samachar observed (12/16):  "Now that Saddam Hussein has been caught and locked away, the question is: who has the right to try him in a court? Occupying American forces or the Iraqi citizens?  The international community must step in to ensure that Saddam gets a fair trial....  It would be naive to believe that guerrilla attacks on the coalition forces will come down with the arrest of Saddam, who was believed to be the mastermind behind these attacks. How the U.S. handles post-Saddam Iraq is going to be its acid test."    


PAKISTAN:  "What Next After Saddam's Arrest"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times stated (12/17):  "Saddam became 'talkative' once he knew that he was in American custody and was not going to be killed. He thinks that if there is going to be an open trial in Iraq he can probably browbeat the Iraqi Council and address the Islamic world over its head. He will confess to nothing damning. He will make speeches in the court. He will attack the United States. In Iraq, this will go down well in the 'Sunni Triangle'. As for the Shias, who hate him, they have already chosen America as their real, bigger enemy. His final execution under the rule of the Iraqi Council will create more problems for the victors. Iraq will not find peace. And America may be denied the satisfaction of an "Islamic" acceptance of what has happened in Iraq. Far better to die thus in the public eye than to have been killed in the rubble of war like his sons.  Saddam Hussain's trail is about to begin. The fear is it could become a trial for the victors as well."


"What A Fate!"


The rightist Islamabad-based Pakistan Observer said (12/16):  "It is true that Saddam was a controversial figure in the Middle East and was also a tyrant and ruthless ruler, yet that doesn’t bestow authority on any country including United States to invade Iraq, occupy its oil resources and resort to killing and brutalizing the innocent Iraqi people....  Morality demands that the world...should sit together after this temporary euphoria is over and ponder over the despicable trends in certain countries to establish that might is right even in 21st century. The fact is that the United States and Britain had violated all norms of morality and international law while launching aggression against Iraq....  Iraqi people...are struggling to regain their freedom from the aggressors and occupiers of their country. They are fighting for the liberation of their own country....  The concept of pre-emptive attacks and regime change has inherent dangerous potentials to the detriment of the weaker and smaller nations as well as for world peace, since any powerful country can opt to impose leadership of its own choice in other countries by sheer dint of its military strength. This trend needs to be checked firmly as it will unleash the law of jungle and bring anarchy and chaos in the world."    


"Saddam In Captivity"


Karachi's center-left, independent English-language Dawn (12/16):  "A free and impartial trial would be possible only when a genuinely representative government comes into being: it would not be possible under foreign occupation or the set-up currently in place under American auspices.  The conclusion should, therefore, be that since the proclaimed Anglo-American objective of dislodging and capturing Saddam Hussein has been accomplished, steps should be quickly taken to vacate Iraq and hand over the country to its people....  He has now provided an opportunity to the Americans to drag him through the mud of humiliation and ridicule: one U.S. military spokesman said on Sunday night that Saddam had been caught like a 'rat in a hole."  More ignominy will follow.  No Arab could have wished to see the image he saw on television on Sunday evening.  At another level, the reaction will be that finally the Americans have caught at least one of their own men--all the Saddams and Usama bin Ladens and Mullah Umers--whom they have created and used and then discarded."


IRAN: "Show Over"


Parviz Esmaeili held in the  conservative, Islamic Propagation Organization-run English-language Tehran Tehran Times (Internet Version-WWW, 12/15):  "There was something very suspicious about the sudden fall of Baghdad, despite the presence of a battle-hardened regular army, many irregular loyalists, and deep bunkers. In addition, the fact that Saddam spent eight months on the run eluding the occupying forces was also a mystery, as is his capture.... Naturally, a careful examination of Saddam's background from the time he took power in Iraq until he was captured on Saturday, December 13, and a look at the similar backgrounds of other dictators who once were U.S. allies but later were rejected by the U.S. would teach us that we should not expect Saddam to get a fair trial. Despite joyous celebrations by the Iraqi people and other nations across the world, there is one ambiguity surrounding the case.  Will the occupiers, who claim they are harbingers of freedom, allow the Iraqi people, who have suffered immensely at his hands, to try him? Will they allow Saddam to be brought to justice as a war criminal in an open court so that he can freely talk about his crimes against the Muslims and those who encouraged him? Saddam has a history of evil.  But he was only able to commit his crimes with the help of foreign powers. Definitely, if foreign powers had not supported him and had not remained silent about his crimes he could never have acted so savagely."


BANGLADESH:  "Future Of Saddam"


Independent Bangla-language Prothom Alo held (12/16):  "What fate awaits Saddam after his capture?  Will the United States abide by the international law related to a prisoner?  The reason for concern in this regard is that whatever the United States has been doing since its invasion of Iraq does not conform to any international norms, laws, morals, and courtesies.  The video clip of Saddam being checked by a doctor after his capture is clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention.  This conduct to a former president of a country is devoid of all civilized manners.  The United States has already been condemned for its forcible occupation of Iraq and lost its honor as the sole superpower.  We hope it will abide by international laws in the case of Saddam’s trial.  Otherwise its image will deteriorate."


SRI LANKA:  "When Will The Mightiest Be Brought Before Justice?"


Pro-LTTE Tamil-language Sudar Oli commented (12/16):  "Saddam Hussein has been arrested eight months after the U.S. led forces invaded Iraq accusing Saddam of possessing WMD....  President Bush has stated that Saddam Hussein will be brought before justice.  In this invasion many were killed, many wounded and priceless properties were lost....  No WMD were found or could not even trace any proof of such possession....  The U.S. that possess WMD attacked the innocent people of a country bringing misery to them....  If the U.S. is prepared to bring Saddam Hussein, whose charges had not been proved, who will bring the mightiest who possesses WMD, before justice?"


"Ensure Fair Trial For Saddam"


Government-owned English-language Daily News editorialized (12/17):  "Now that U.S. Forces have captured their main Iraqi adversary Saddam Hussein, attention has shifted to his eventual fate....  Saddam's trial must be fair and transparent....  Saddam will be in custody before and during the trial. It goes without saying that he should be accorded the rights stemming from the Geneva Conventions regardless of whether he is granted formal Prisoner of War status or not....  With Saddam in prison, coalition partners should strive to reach their avowed goal of restoring democracy and sovereignty to Iraq by the June 2004 deadline. The earlier Iraqis can govern themselves, the better."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Saddam Captured"


The liberal Mercury declared (12/15):  "The big question is what the U.S. should do with Saddam....  It is vital, if the occupying allied forces wish to gain the moral high ground...that Saddam should be afforded every legal right that is due and that the process of judging his actions should be unchallengeable in terms of international law.  Saddam's capture is a coup for the allied forces and a sign that the tide was beginning to turn against him anyway."


"After Saddam's Capture"


Pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan editorialized (12/15):  "Mr. George Bush, America's controversial president, has received an early Christmas present....  It won't help Bush's re-election campaign.  Worse, it will not readily silence the guns in Iraq.  Neither will it bring law and order back which appear to have been banished by the arrival of the foreign troops in Iraq....  Who should try him [Saddam]?  Clearly not the U.S. or its allies.  Also, there are no credible structures in Iraq to try him....  If Bush can overcome his excitement...he must hand him over to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for trial."


GHANA:  "A Lesson To All Despots"


The government-owned national Evening News stated (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein, the ousted president of Iraq, at the weekend has brought a major relief to the Coalition Forces who have been on his heels since the war in Iraq ended.  To the United States and Britain, it is a breakthrough in their attempt to wipe out terrorism wherever it may rear its ugly head.   The celebration that swept the streets of Baghdad and other parts of the country is enough evidence that the Iraqis are today happier than before, though they have a Herculean task of re-building their ruined country.   Since the fall of Saddam's regime, the Coalition Forces, especially the American soldiers have come under regular attacks from faceless militants who have resorted to guerrilla war tactics bombing, and thus killing and maiming U.S. soldiers who are seen as occupation forces. We hope that with his capture these killings will end and Iraqis will breathe the air of freedom, and tackle their difficulties with smiles and hope a better future."


SENEGAL: "Indecency" 


Oumar Kouressy wrote in independent French-language Sud Quotidien (12/16):  "We welcome the fall of the dictator and acknowledge his many crimes, but the U.S. has flouted the Geneva Convention by its treatment of the captured Saddam Hussein....  In the end, this will reinforce the Iraqi nationalist resistance to the American occupation....  In trying to chase out a tyrant, the Americans have created a hero whose trial could yet divide the coalition and its Iraqi allies and push the U.S. further against the wall against the rest of the international community."


UGANDA:  "Dilemma On How And Where To Try Saddam"


The independent Monitor opined (12/18):  "There is sufficient ground to sustain a case against Saddam Hussein for gross human rights violations including war crimes and crimes against humanity. But like any other criminal suspect, under the jurisdiction of international law he is entitled to certain safeguards including the right to a fair trial, not to be subjected to torture or ill treatment and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.  So the important question now is whether to try him within the international criminal system of the International Criminal Court, or to subject him to the recently established municipal law of Iraq....  The International Criminal Court would have jurisdiction over Saddam Hussein but only in respect of allegations of crimes committed after July 1, 2002.... So, in determining the best option, while some groups for personal reasons may prefer the Iraqi tribunal which has the death penalty implicitly embedded, it is important to make a choice that shall provide an effective remedy and leave the world in no doubt that justice was not only done but was also seen to be done.  Whatever court will try Saddam Hussein and others must be competent, independent and impartial, and follow procedures that are fully consistent with international safeguards for fair trial."


ZAMBIA:  "Condemning Saddam"


The privately-owned independent Post held (12/17):  "We welcome UN Secretary General Kofi Annan opposition to bringing Saddam Hussein before a tribunal that might sentence him to death....  However, we know that the superpower in charge of the neo-colony of Iraq has a well know talent for killing. No one can say how many they have killed already.  Someday the number will be known....  The assassination of Saddam Hussein, under whatever legal guise, will only give ammunition to those who believe in terror, in killing.  Whatever the purpose is cited, the idea that a government--a colonial one for that matter--can justify a punishment as cruel as death conflicts with the very concept of human rights the United States and its so called Governing Council in Iraq have been claiming to be advancing and defending.... Like killings which take place outside the law, the death penalty denies the value of human life...(and)...removes the foundation of the realization of all rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights....  Saddam Hussein, whatever wrongs or violations he has committed, is a human being and deserves to be treated as a human being."




CANADA:  "Saddam More Useful Alive Than Dead"


Paul Stanway suggested in the conservative tabloid Edmonton Sun (12/17):  "The former Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic, a more modest psychopath than Saddam, put on quite a show during his recent trial before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.... But Saddam is a bigger fish, from every standpoint, and he will generate massive media coverage and public interest.... The one leader who would appear to have little or nothing to worry about if Saddam's gums start flapping is the American president....  The U.S. would be smart to let the Iraqis try Saddam. They will be less inclined to be lenient than an international tribunal, and if he wants to deal his way out of a death sentence Washington should encourage it. A thoroughly discredited Saddam would be of more advantage than a corpse, and his revelations could be a weapon of mass embarrassment for the hypocrites of the world."


"Try Hussein in Iraq"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (12/16): "Various human-rights groups and international law experts are saying that Iraq's interim government has neither the credibility nor the competence for the job. They think an international court like the one prosecuting former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic would be better.... But international courts were never supposed to replace national ones. Only when national courts are unable or unwilling should they step in.... The Iraqis, by contrast, are eager to prosecute Mr. Hussein. With a little help, they are probably able, too. Iraq is not Rwanda. Despite Mr. Hussein's depredations, it is a sophisticated country with plenty of good legal minds.... Mr. Hussein's trial would give Iraq's new leadership a chance to demonstrate its competence as it prepares to take sovereign control of the country from the U.S.-led occupation authorities next July. More important, it would give Iraqis a chance to come to terms with the horrors of the Hussein years. A remote, international trial, on the other hand, would rob them of this experience and reinforce the impression that Westerners are bent on running their affairs. Washington's critics have been saying for months that it should transfer sovereignty to Iraqis sooner. They can't at the same time argue that foreigners would be better suited to exercise one of any sovereign country's central tasks: meting out justice. If anyone should judge Saddam Hussein, it is the Iraqis themselves."


"Judgment Day"


Under the sub-heading, "Saddam's trial will catalogue his crimes, but shouldn't make the tyrant a martyr," the right-of-center Calgary Herald declared (12/16): "Saddam Hussein is neither the U.S.'s prize alone, nor Iraq's....  Bush was right to suggest the U.S. and Iraq will jointly determine how the tyrant will be tried.... Much as it seems natural in the heat of the moment to call for the head of a man who was such a monster and tyrannized so many, Saddam should not be executed. In his violent culture, death would be letting him off easily and, to many militant eyes in the Muslim world, honourably. He must not become a martyr to the cause of terrorism.... Although he was exposed as a coward on the weekend, it is highly unlikely Saddam fears death. But, this despot's monstrous narcissistic ego very very likely fears the humiliation of solitude. Because alone, he is nothing. Not even a martyr."


"Allow Iraqis To Decide Saddam's Fate"


The left-of-center Vancouver Sun opined (12/15):  "By allowing the Iraqis to try Saddam, the U.S. would send the message that it's serious about returning not only political power, but also judicial power, to the people of Iraq.  An Iraqi trial would also allow those who suffered most under Saddam's regime to bring him to justice.  There are several problems with allowing Iraq to conduct the trial, but none are insurmountable.  The fledgling government of Iraq might not be capable of handling such a monumental trial on its own, but the international community could offer assistance....  If the support of the EU is deemed important enough, the court could declare that the death penalty will not be sought, but that's a decision that should be made by the Iraqis.  In any case, it will be some months before Saddam Hussein is brought to justice.  Until then, the coalition must continue its campaign, so the Iraqi people can finally enjoy the peace they so richly deserve."


ARGENTINA:  "Debate Over Capital Punishment for Saddam"


Daily-of-record La Nacion stated (12/16): "A day after the capture of Saddam Hussein -- whose detention by U.S. troops in a precarious hole close to Tikrit shocked the world -- the debate on how and where to judge the ousted Iraqi leader is in the limelight. But, while Iraq's Government Council didn't rule out death penalty for the former dictator, President Bush promised 'he'll have a fair trial', with international supervision, although he made clear that it's for the Iraqi citizens to decide Saddam's fate.... Secretary Rumsfeld, meanwhile, said Saddam would be treated like a prisoner of war, following the Geneva Convention. According to experts, this spares him from going to Guantanamo.... Instead, the former Iraqi leader will most likely be taken to court in Iraq. This trial will take place in a special court - created last week --. Its statute was approved by Iraq's Government Council and is supposed to investigate cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, among others." 


BRAZIL:  "Fear Of Contagion"


Antonio Sepulveda noted in center-left Jornal do Brasil (12/17):  "The Arab League condemned the U.S. invasion not because they were against the war...or the bloodshed...but rather because they fear the freedom the Iraq people will have to choose their own leaders.... The possibility of a democracy in Iraq puts their totalitarian regimes at risk. It will be very difficult to prevent neighboring people from wanting the same sublime rights once Iraqis start to elect their representatives and to write a Constitution.... The public trial of Saddam Hussein and his accomplices will bring forth this scenario.  That is to say:  Exactly what the Arab League is trying to avoid....    The time is take up a clear position in favor of the inevitable wave of democracy that may cleanse the Arab countries alongside the upcoming decades, instead of the abject attitude rooting against the establishment of an elected, legitimate government in Iraq.  The consequence of denying such reality could be a revolt that, invariably, causes tyrants to flee.”


"What To Do With Saddam"


The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo held (12/16):  "The capture of Saddam Hussein gives the U.S., the UN and the nations that opposed the invasion of Iraq an exceptional opportunity to erase the bitter antagonisms caused by Washington's decision to wage the war against the dictator without the UN's support....  It will be an encouraging factor if the White House has the common sense to give the community of nations, with Iraqi participation, responsibility for Saddam's trial....  Washington must request that the UN install under its exclusive authority an ad hoc court to judge Saddam--in Baghdad out of respect for Iraqi sensibilities--for crimes against humanity....  A fair trial--that will exhume Saddam's atrocities since the time when he maintained normal relations with the U.S. and France, among other western nations--will demonstrate that, after all, the elimination of evil regimes, as Bush says, 'purifies the air mankind breathes.'"


"The Future"


Center-right O Globo's editorial stated (12/16): “Move than ever the new stage of Iraq’s history is in the hands of Saddam’s capturers  - i.e., in the hands of President George W. Bush.  The President should create conditions to enable the former dictator to have a fair trial that can not be seen as an act of revenge or promotional manipulation.  Moreover, with Saddam captured Bush has the opportunity to expose to the world the brutality of an indefensible dictatorship.  And to explain what happened to the weapons of mass destruction, if they ever existed; and what relations Saddam maintained with Osama bin Laden.  Yesterday Bush said the U.S. will work closely with the Iraqis - which is a good sign, but it’s not enough.  The same logic that applied to the American occupation is valid now for Saddam’s trial: the larger the international community’s involvement, the greater its legitimacy.”


MEXICO:  "To An International Court "


Independent Reforma said (12/17):  "George W. Bush has probably already decreed Saddam Hussein's death sentence.   Bush is from Texas and he sees the death penalty as something normal....  The only hope for the fallen dictator is to be tried by an international court, otherwise revenge will replace justice, and U.S. interests will prevail....  Even though Hussein is a ruthless criminal and deserves to be rigorously punished, he must be tried by an international court and be able to defend himself.  In order to guarantee the fairness of any trial, the U.S. should leave Iraq and leave the pacification work in that nation to the UN and NATO so that the Iraqi people--not the military occupants--would determine their own destiny."


"The Capture"


Roberta Garza wrote in the nationalist Milenio (12/16):  “Bush said that Hussein will have the justice he denied to millions and that the death penalty for the former dictator would not be decided by him but by the Iraqi people. This is a phrase that writers of presidential speeches know how to use, but such phrases are perfectly false; in this case because the prisoner will be judged by the Iraqi Council, which is an institution set up by the U.S.… The polls tracking Bush’s popularity have jumped up - for months they had shown a tendency to decline.  I suppose that everybody celebrates at the White House because, this after all is what really matters.”


"We Have Him"


An editorial in the conservative El Siglo de Torreon asserted (12/16): "The U.S. priority was to capture Saddam, as none other of their close collaborators was as hated by the Americans as the former dictator. The other (priority) now is to submit him to trial, which evidently should take place in Iraq before the new courts established in that country, because it would be imprudent to transfer him to U.S. territory to be judged as this could lead to terrorist attacks....  Whatever the case, the U.S. should keep watch to see that Saddam gets a fair trial and that no error is committed, as is frequently the case, in trying him summarily without giving him the opportunity to defend himself.  Why?  Because if this happens, international opinion will reproach George W. Bush, even though the White House tenant couldn't care less, as he doesn't care that his reasons for attacking Iraq were proven wrong by the fact that the weapons of mass destruction at the hands of the overthrown dictator were never found."


CHILE: "Capture And Trial Of Saddam Hussein"


Conservative, influential newspaper of record El Mercurio argued (12/17):  "Saddam Hussein's capture...eliminates an element of terror...which is why we shouldn't be surprised by the celebrations and expressions of rejoicing seen among the Iraqi people....  These demonstrations must not be viewed, however, as support for the intervention by the U.S. and its allies....  Hussein's capture must now be followed by a trial...a trial that furthers the institutionality of Iraq and provides an example for despots in other nations.  A trial in Iraq by prestigious Iraqi judges who follow the rules of due process would accomplish this....  Trying Hussein is not a major problem given the atrocities and the evidence of his crimes....  What is important is that the trial not be seen as an act of revenge and not be imposed from abroad, so that Hussein does not become a martyr or the sentence be viewed as an abuse by foreign powers.  Hussein's capture is another contribution by the United States and President Bush to world security and to the liberation of Iraq, and deserves acknowledgement.

 Now it must be followed by an exemplary trial.


COLOMBIA:  "Hussein:  Behind Bars"


Top national daily El Tiempo editorialized (12/15):  “The first conclusion drawn is that such a worn-out, dirty character found in a dusty hole, who surrendered without firing a single shot, is not the heroic leader of the resistance in Iraq....  The fall of the former dictator is a major event for the future of Iraq, a highly significant political and moral victory for the U.S., and a special opportunity for President Bush to understand that the time for building an authentic international coalition for the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq has come....  [For Hussein] to be tried by the The Hague Tribunal is obvious...but Washington probably will want Hussein to be tried before his fellow citizens and by Iraqi authorities....  The arrest of the former dictator does not mean violence will cease.  It is indeed a harsh blow to terrorism and it may contribute to political stability in Iraq, but the war will not end with Hussein’s arrest.”


GUATEMALA:  "The Ace Of Spades"


Staff columnist Francisco Beltranena commented in the same edition of Prensa Libre (12/16):  "Hussein’s capture eliminates, in great measure, the motives for armed attacks by Baath resistance...and leaves his followers with no political future.…  There is no doubt that Saddam must be judged in an Iraqi court of law.   However, this tribunal does not yet exist.… No one knows for certain what the end of the ‘Ace of Spades’ will be.”


JAMAICA: "Will Hussein Get A Fair Trial?"


Jamaican academic Prince Neto White opined in a letter to the Editor of the moderate, influential Daily Gleaner (12/17): "It is simple and logical to conclude that the possibility of Mr. Hussein receiving a fair trial is very remote, should he be tried in this Iraqi tribunal...the now ousted and imprisoned leader has become a very potent threat to international justice and the reputation of the pioneer of the free world, the United States of America."


PERU:  "After The Capture"


Center-left La Republica argued (12/15):  "The capture of former dictator Saddam an unquestionable political victory for the coalition...  The perpetration of the atrocities he ordered...would be enough reason to condemn him for genocide and crimes against humanity....  An international tribunal should judge Hussein....  Unfortunately there are few possibilities that this happens since the U.S. proposed a trial by Iraqi courts....  At the bottom of this decision, one can't escape the history of Iraq for the last quarter century.  As with Osama bin Laden in respect to the Soviets in Afghanistan, Hussein was sponsored and armed to the teeth by those who later fought him.   Hussein is a man who knows too much and his secrets could put Washington in a real fix....  This decision also poses serious logistical problems...and it will be difficult to find competent a country that has never known about democracy or independence of powers....  This analysis is not meant to diminish the capture of Hussein, but to put it in a sensitive and complex context."


VENEZUELA: "Iraq Without Saddam" 


Political analyst Manuel Malaver commented in economic Reporte (12/16): "U.S. president, George Bush, was right when he says that the capture of Saddam Hussein 'does not mean the end of the violence in Iraq.' The Iraqi leadership that takes the reins of the country will have to face immense challenges in the first months of the next year that will validate or not the proposal - so expensive for the Bush administration - that democracy and freedom can flourish in any country.  If this thesis proves right, it will not only make a fundamental change in the Middle East affairs but also have a deep impact on the shape of XXI century society."






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