The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bush: Saddam got justice, not dignity

Washington, Jan. 4 (Reuters): President George W. Bush said yesterday that Saddam Hussein’s execution should have been carried out in a “more dignified way,” but the Iraqi leader had received justice, which his victims had not.

“We expect there to be a full investigation of what took place,” Bush said at a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in his first public comments on an illicit video that showed Shia officials taunting Saddam on the gallows.

Controversy over last week’s execution has coincided with Bush’s final efforts to hammer out a revised strategy for the unpopular Iraq war, which has killed more than 3,000 American military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Bush promised to unveil his new Iraq policy next week.

While expressing no regrets that Saddam had been put to death after an Iraqi court convicted him of crimes against humanity, Bush welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s pledge to investigate the way the execution was conducted.

The mobile phone video of observers yelling “Go to hell” and chanting the name of a radical Shia cleric before Saddam falls through the trap-door has drawn international criticism and further inflamed sectarian passions in Iraq.

“I wish, obviously, that the proceedings had been — gone in a more dignified way. But nevertheless, he was given justice,” Bush said. “The thousands of people he killed were not.” White House officials said earlier that Bush had not seen the execution video but had been briefed. The US military insisted it had no role in the hanging.

Merkel made no mention of Saddam’s execution after White House talks, in keeping with the softer approach she has taken compared to her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

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