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Iraqis to decide Saddam's fate: Bush

T V Parasuram in Washington | December 16, 2003 00:18 IST
Last Updated: December 16, 2003 00:34 IST

United States President George W Bush on Monday said former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would be put on public trial in a manner to be worked out with Iraqi people.

"We will work with Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will withstand international scrutiny," Bush said at a yearend news conference.

He said the Iraqis were very much involved because they were the ones brutalised by Hussein. "He murdered them, gassed them and tortured them."

Asked whether he believed that Hussein should be executed, Bush said, "My personal views are not as important as the views of Iraqi citizens."

Bush said he was confident justice would be delivered in a fair way.

Asked for a message to Hussein, Bush said, "The world is better off without you, Mr Saddam Hussein. And I find it is very interesting that when the heat got on, you dug yourself a hole and you crawled in it."

While justifying his decision to deny non-allies contracts for rebuilding Iraq with American funds, he reached out to France and Germany and stressed the importance of their joining in the reconstruction of Iraq.

He also pointed out that Germany had troops in Afghanistan. He said it was in the interest of the US to work with them in order to rebuild Iraq.

Bush opened his meeting with reporters by declaring that the weekend capture of the former Iraqi dictator was clear evidence that Iraq "is on the path to freedom", but he also warned of "further sacrifice" ahead on the part of American troops.

Bush pointed out that he was sending former US secretary of state Jim Baker, also a friend, to both France and Germany to encourage them to work on debt relief for Iraq.

He did not agree that the Iraq policy was the "dividing line" between the US and those countries.

"This was a disagreement on this particular issue but they could work together on a variety of other issues," he said.

He also noted that the Europeans were working with the US to deal with the nuclear issue in Iran and that China and the US were working together on North Korea.

"It is a transforming event in a part of the world where hatred and violence are bred, a part of the world that breeds resentment," he said.

People need no longer have to hold back their sentiments and feelings towards living in a free society, Bush said.

Saddam "is a torturer, a killer" and there were rape rooms in his regime, Bush said, adding, "One can understand why people feared him. After all, he stayed in power by ruling through fear."

Bush said he expected more violence in Iraq. "Those who believe in violence, murder and mayhem cannot stand the thought of a free Iraq emerging in the Middle East."

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