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Saddam Execution Video Scandal Fuels Reactions


An Iraqi official says the person suspected to have secretly recorded video of Saddam Hussein's execution on a mobile phone camera has been arrested. Bush administration officials say the United States raised concerns about the manner of the execution.

An adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the government is leading an investigation into the abusive acts at Saddam's execution.

Mobile phone footage---widely distributed on the Internet---documents witnesses taunting Saddam Hussein moments before he was hanged.

Sunni Arabs in Iraq have staged demonstrations at the conduct of Saddam's execution, saying it was an act of pure vengeance by the Shiite-led government.

The top U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad attempted to distance the United States from the manner of Saddam's execution. "If you are asking me 'would we have done things differently?' Yes, we would have. But that's not our decision. That's the government of Iraq's decision."

President Bush declined to answer a question about the former Iraqi ruler's execution when he spoke to reporters Wednesday.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had expressed its concerns over the handling of Saddam's execution. But he emphasized that Saddam Hussein was executed after a long trial that met international standards. "There seems to be a lot of concern about the last two minutes of Saddam Hussein's life and less about the first 69 [years] in which he murdered hundreds of thousands of people."

Experts on the Middle East say the scandal has further inflamed sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs in Iraq. Edmund Ghareeb is an international relations scholar at American University in Washington D.C.

"It is likely to pour oil on the fire of sectarianism and that in itself is going to make life difficult for both the United States and the Iraqi government."

An Iraqi special tribunal condemned Saddam to death in November for his role in ordering the executions of 148 Shi'ites after a failed assassination attempt in 1982.

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