US cable describes controversial Saddam execution

Last Updated: Monday, December 6, 2010 - 16:16

Baghdad: A newly-leaked US diplomatic cable
describes in detail the circumstances of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein`s execution, from guards telling him to "go to hell" to officials taking mobile phone pictures.

Saddam`s execution in December 2006 sparked international
controversy after mobile phone video of the sentence being
carried out was published on the Internet showing witnesses
taunting him as he was about to be hanged.

The controversies led then-US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
to comment in the leaked cable that supporters of Saddam would
use the poorly-conducted execution as an excuse to condemn
what he said was a fair trial.

According to the cable, dispatched in January 2007 and
classified SECRET, Iraqi deputy prosecutor Monqith al-Faroun,
in a meeting with Khalilzad, described a guard who was
escorting Saddam to the execution platform telling the ousted
president to "go to hell", remarks that Faroun said he

Faroun said that subsequently, he saw Iraqi officials
present at the execution openly taking photographs with their
mobile phone cameras, despite the fact that the devices were

The lawyer added that as Saddam was conducting his final
prayer before being hanged, one witness shouted, "Moqtada,
Moqtada, Moqtada", in reference to the radical Shiite cleric
Moqtada al-Sadr who rose to prominence after Saddam`s fall
from power.

The mobile phone footage, which spread across the
Internet and was being sold on Baghdad streets in the days
following the execution, showed an angry but composed Saddam
standing on a steel platform in a dark hall, his hands bound
and a rough hemp rope around his neck.

Several members of the party carrying out the hanging can
be heard chanting, "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada!" before Saddam
is seen falling to his death as the metal trapdoor opens below his feet.
Commenting on the incident, the cable`s author, whose
identity is unclear, wrote, "The GOI`s (government of Iraq)
lack of a clear and coordinated plan to control the witnesses
and conduct the execution resulted in a hastily run and
confusing event."

The cable noted that the Iraqi witness list for the
execution changed "several times prior to the execution and at
one point included 20-30 personnel."

Khalilzad told Faroun, the cable said, that
"Saddam`s supporters would use the execution as an excuse to
condemn what had been a fair and just trial."


First Published: Monday, December 6, 2010 - 16:16

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