Ban cool on en­voy’s words de­nounc­ing ex­e­cu­tion of Sad­dam

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Betsy Pisik and Sharon Behn

New United Na­tions Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 2 backed­awayfrom­com­ments­bythe world body’s top rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Iraq crit­i­ciz­ing the ex­e­cu­tion of for­mer dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein.

Meet­ingre­portersinNewYorkon his first full day on the job, Mr. Ban said Sad­dam was guilty of “heinous crimes and un­speak­able atroc­i­ties against the Iraqi peo­ple, and we should never for­get the vic­tims of th­ese crimes.”

“The is­sue of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is for each and ev­ery mem­ber state to de­cide,” said the South Korean diplo­mat. “[. . . ] While I am firmly against im­punity, I also hope that the mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity should pay due re­gard to all as­pects of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.”

On Dec. 31, the day Sad­dam was hanged in a north Bagh­dad prison, Ashraf Qazi, the U.N. point man in Bagh­dad,is­suedas­tate­mentsay­ing theUnit­edNa­tions­flat­ly­op­posedthe death penalty, re­gard­less of the crimes for which it is im­posed.

TheUnit­edNa­tions“un­der­stands thedesire­for­jus­tice­felt­bythe­many Iraqis,” said Mr. Qazi, a Pak­istani diplo­mat.

“Based on the prin­ci­ple of re­spect for the right to life, how­ever, theUnit­edNa­tion­sre­main­sop­posed to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, even in the cases of war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity and geno­cide.”

After­shocks­fromthe­ex­e­cu­tionof Sad­dam, 69, con­tin­ued to roil the Iraqi po­lit­i­cal scene af­ter images from a leaked cell-phone video record­ing showed some of the wit­nesses taunt­ing the for­mer dic­ta­tor in the mo­ments be­fore he was hanged.

Many fear the rau­cous scene at the dingy prison room ex­e­cu­tion — on the first day of a ma­jor Sunni Mus­lim hol­i­day — will only in­flame sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

“This man de­stroyed 35 years of my life, for many years I dreamed about his death. But when I saw it, I was an­gry,” said a Shi’ite Mus­lim doc­tor who watched the tele­vised ex­e­cu­tion.

“When you take a man’s life, it should be with re­spect,” he said, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity out of fear for his safety.

A Sunni for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cer jailed twice by Sad­dam’s regime said Sad­dam, un­like his ex­e­cu­tion­ers, be­haved like a “real man” in his fi­nal min­utes.

“Killing him with this funny trial and in this way, and on this date, made Sad­dam an Is­lamic and Arab hero,” said the of­fi­cer, who also de­clined to speak on the record.

Sami al-Askari, a close po­lit­i­cal ad­viser to Prime Min­is­ter Nouri alMa­liki,toldtheAs­so­ci­at­edPressthat the prime min­is­ter had or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­toiden­ti­fy­whochanted slo­gans and leaked the video of the ex­e­cu­tion to the press. Iraqi Pres­i­dent Jalal Tal­a­bani, an eth­nic Kurd who has long op­posed the death penalty, said in a state­ment he had not been aware the date for the ex­e­cu­tion had even been sched­uled.

But Mr. al-Askari de­fended the de­ci­sion to ex­e­cute Sad­dam.

“This is an ar­ti­fi­cial up­roar,” he told Iraqi state television. “[Crit­ics] can­not say this court has been un­just, and so they take this mis­take and for­get that Sad­dam de­served to be ex­e­cuted.”

Betsy Pisik re­ported from New York.

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