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Australia backs death penalty for Saddam

December 15, 2003 11:26 IST
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Political leaders in Australia on Monday gave their backing to death penalty for deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, captured by US forces on Sunday night.

A jubilant Prime Minister John Howard, who was part of US-led 'coalition of the willing' that invaded Iraq, hailed news of Saddam's capture as a huge boost for the people of Iraq.

Howard, who was given the details of Saddam's capture in an early morning telephone call from US President George W Bush, said it would lift a huge burden and remove a great fear from the people of Iraq.

"I congratulate those elements of the United States military responsible for his capture," he said. "Saddam's capture is a huge boost for the cause of liberty and democracy in Iraq."

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He said he would prefer to see Saddam tried in Iraq than in an international tribunal, and would support the death penalty if it was imposed.

"I want him tried in circumstances where he will receive the justice he denied the other people," Howard said. "Obviously there's a strong case for that to happen in Iraq. I'm not particularly attracted to the idea of him being tried say in The Hague. I think it would be better if he were tried in Iraq."

Meanwhile, leading US lawmakers called for him to face trial for atrocities committed under his regime.

"We have to try Saddam Hussein and he must be held accountable in a way that has recognised world legitimacy. That could happen in Iraq, it could happen at the world court," Senator John Kerry, a Democratic presidential candidate, said on Fox television.

"The most important thing is that the United States of America shows the world how decently we treat even the worst criminal and the worst thug, how much we abide by rule of law, and how critical it is to have full accountability."

Republican Senator John McCain called for holding a trial both in Iraq and the Hague.

"He should have a trial in front of his people... but also in front of the Hague so you can have an exposition of the crimes he committed that transcended the borders of Iraq," he said.

Senator Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Saddam's trial should be modelled on the trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

But Joe Lieberman, another Democratic senator running for president, said Saddam should only stand trial in a tribunal with the power to impose the death penalty.

"This evil man has to face the death penalty. The international tribunal in the Hague cannot order the death penalty," Lieberman said on NBC television.


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