BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi authorities reported the arrests Wednesday of two
guards and an official who supervised Saddam Hussein's hanging and said the
guard force was infiltrated by outsiders who taunted the former leader and shot
the video showing his body dangling at the end of a rope.
video, which ignited protests by Saddam's fellow Sunni Arabs in various Iraqi
cities, threatens to turn the ousted ruler into a martyr. Saddam was shown
never bowing his head as he faced death, and asking the hecklers if they were
acting in a manly way.
This image, copyright owner unknown, obtained by the
Associated Press from an Arab language web site, and seemingly shot on a
camera phone appears to show former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein just prior
to his hanging in Baghdad early Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006. [AP]
Saddam, who was convicted for the killings of 148 Shiites, was dignified and
courteous to his American jailers up to the moment he was handed over to the
Iraqis outside the execution chamber, a US military spokesman said Wednesday.
He "was courteous, as he always had been, to his US military police
guards," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said. "He spoke very well to our military
police, as he always had. And when getting off there at the prison site, he said
farewell to his interpreter. He thanked the military police squad, the
lieutenant, the squad leader, the medical doctor we had present, and the colonel
that was on site."
Although Saddam "was still dignified toward us," Caldwell said his demeanor
changed "at the prison facility when the Iraqi guards were assuming control of
National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie and two other top officials
variously reported one to three men were being questioned in the investigation
into who heckled Saddam as he was minutes from death and took cell phone
pictures of his execution.
"The investigation has already had an arrest warrant against one person and
two to follow," al-Rubaie told CNN. He said the guard force at the execution was
infiltrated by an Arab television station or another outsider.
The clandestine footage appeared on Al-Jazeera television and Web sites just
hours after Saddam was hanged Saturday. The tumultuous scenes quickly
overshadowed an official execution video, which was mute and showed none of the
uproar among those on the floor of the chamber below the gallows.
Sami al-Askeri, a Shiite lawmaker who advises Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said two "Justice Ministry guards were being
questioned. The investigation committee is interrogating the men. If it is found
that any official was involved, he will face legal measures."