Although some voiced doubts that Saddam would actually be hanged, the
International Federation for Human Rights denounced the death sentence, warning
that it "will generate more violence and deepen the cycle of killing for revenge
in Iraq." The Council of Europe called it "futile and wrong" to execute Saddam.
Iraqi Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman
addresses former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein after sentencing him to
death during his trial in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone November
5, 2006. A visibly shaken Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes
against humanity and sentenced to hang on Sunday at a lightning session of
the US-backed court trying him in Baghdad. [Reuters]
Louise Arbour, the UN high
commissioner for human rights, urged Iraq to ensure a fair appeals process and
to refrain from executing Saddam even if the sentence is upheld.
In Pakistan, an opposition religious coalition claimed American forces have
caused more deaths in Iraq in the past 3 1/2 years than Saddam did during his
23-year rule, and insisted Bush should stand trial for war crimes.
"Who will punish the Americans and their lackeys who have killed many more
people than Saddam Hussein?" asked Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior lawmaker from
the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal coalition, which is critical of Pakistan's military
cooperation with the United States.
In the Arab world, some Muslims saw the sentence as divine retribution, but
others decried it as a farce.
"Saddam is being judged by traitors, Americans and Iranians, and those who
came on the backs of American tanks," said Mahmoud al-Saifi of the Arab
Iran, which fought an eight-year war against Saddam's Iraq and is a bitter
opponent of the United States, praised the death sentence and said it hoped that
Saddam -- denounced by one lawmaker as "a vampire" -- still would be tried for
Key US allies -- including Britain and Australia -- welcomed Sunday's
verdict, which had been widely expected.
"Appalling crimes were committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. It is right that
those accused of such crimes against the Iraqi people should face Iraqi
justice," British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in a statement.
Amnesty International questioned the fairness of the trial, and international
legal experts said Saddam should be kept alive long enough to answer for other
"The longer we can keep Saddam alive, the longer the tribunal can have to
explore some of the other crimes involving hundreds of thousands of Iraqis,"
said Sonya Sceats, an international law expert at the Chatham House foreign
affairs think tank in London.
"The problem really is that this tribunal has not shown itself to be fair and
impartial -- not only by international standards, but by Iraqi standards," she
Chandra Muzaffar, president of the Malaysian-based International Movement for
a Just World, also voiced concerns that Saddam's trial "violated many
established norms of international jurisprudence."
Even so, "Saddam was undoubtedly a brutal dictator, and even though I
wouldn't subscribe to the death penalty, he deserves to be punished severely for
the enormity of his crimes," he added.
Konstantin Kosachyov, the Kremlin-allied head of the international affairs
committee in Russia's State Duma, or lower house of parliament, said the
sentence would deepen divisions in Iraq.
But Kosachyov expressed doubts that Saddam would actually be executed.
The verdict, he said, was mostly symbolic -- "retribution that modern Iraq is
taking against Saddam's regime."