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Spain: Saddam must pay for his crimes
( 2003-12-14 22:49) (Agencies)

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar welcomed the capture of Saddam Hussein and said the toppled Iraqi president would have to answer for his crimes.

"He is responsible for the deaths of millions of people in the past 30 years. The moment has come for him to pay for his crimes," Aznar said in a radio address.

Saddam's arrest leaves groups who have been sowing terror in Iraq since his demise as "closer to defeat," according to Aznar.

"This is a good day for everyone. It is a good day for the whole world.

"He was a threat to his people and to the whole world," insisted the Spanish leader.

Aznar, who earlier Sunday described Saddam as the "main obstacle" to peace in Iraq, has reaped bitter domestic criticism for backing Washington in the conflict and deploying some 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq last August.

But on Sunday he again justified Spain's military role in rebuilding Iraq, stressing that "we feel our duty is to participate in the construction of a free Iraq."

Saddam, 66, was captured late on Saturday by US forces in a small underground hole near his northern Iraqi hometown of Tikrit, according to US officials.

He is being held at an undisclosed location.

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio heralded Saddam's capture as a "great day for humanity."

"This is a great day for humanity and (for) the freedom of the Iraqi people," Palacio told a press conference.

"It is a triumph for all of us, for all humanity. The bloody dictator is going to disappear" from the political scene, said Palacio.

"This is an emotional moment and one of great joy for the Iraqi people who today recover their freedom as the sinister shadow of Saddam Hussein was still hovering" until his capture, Palacio added.

She was speaking at a press conference in Madrid attended by the visiting head of Iraq's US-installed interim Governing Council, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

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