IRAQ: World slams gory Saddam video

Governments decry video release as unacceptable regardless of the former president's history

Times of India
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Iraq --- Grainy cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution triggered international criticism on Tuesday, with UK's deputy prime minister calling the leaked images "unacceptable" and the Vatican decrying the footage as a "spectacle" violating human rights.

Meanwhile, the Italian government pushed for a UN moratorium on the death penalty, Cuba called the execution "an illegal act", and Sunnis in Iraq took to the streets in mainly peaceful demonstrations across the country.

The unofficial video showed a scene that stopped just short of pandemonium, during which one person is heard shouting "To hell!" at the deposed president and Saddam is heard exchanging insults with his executioners.

The inflammatory footage also showed Saddam plummeting through the gallows trapdoor and dangling in death. The grainy video appeared on the Internet and Al-Jazeera television late Saturday.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation into the execution to try to uncover who taunted the former dictator, and who leaked the cell phone footage.

British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said those who leaked the footage should be condemned.

"I think the manner was quite deplorable really. I don't think one can endorse in any way that, whatever your views about capital punishment," Prescott said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp radio.

"Frankly, to get the kind of recorded messages coming out is totally unacceptable and I think whoever is involved and responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves."

The Holy See's daily, L'Osservatore Romano, lamented that "making a spectacle" of the execution had turned capital punishment into "an expression of political hubris".

The execution "represented, for the ways in which it happened and for the media attention it received, another example of the violation of the most basic rights of man," L'Osservatore wrote.