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Iraqi Tribunal to Follow International Legal Standards - 2003-12-17

The current president of the Iraqi Governing Council is promising a fair trial for Saddam Hussein. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim spoke with reporters in London following talks with senior British officials.

Mr. al-Hakim said a special Iraqi tribunal will follow international legal practice in trying Saddam Hussein and other members of his deposed government.

"The court will look into all the allegations against Saddam or the convicts or other criminals of the Ba'ath Party," he said. "Then they will decide how to deal with these issues according to international law and standards."

Mr. al-Hakim lost 63 members of his family who were killed over the years of Saddam Hussein's rule, and he was asked if the former president should receive the death penalty. He said that will be up to the court.

"He will be tried and after that we will do what the judge and the court will decide," he replied.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appeared at the same news conference. He said he is confident Iraqis can fairly handle Saddam Hussein's trial.

"Those who are going to be running Iraq in the future and who are running it now are democrats, who know about the difference between justice and injustice because they suffered wickedly from the injustice of Saddam," said Mr. Straw. "It will also just be a fact that any trial that is held will be under an international focus."

International experts express varying opinions on whether Saddam Hussein should be tried in Iraq, or by an international tribunal somewhere else. No final decision has been made about where or when he will face charges expected to include war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr. al-Hakim was asked whether Iraq should pay reparations to Iran for the eight-year war the countries fought in the 1980s. He said Iran deserves payments, but the issue did not come up when he led a delegation to Tehran recently.

Mr. al-Hakim represents the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shi'ite Muslim organization whose leaders lived in exile in Iran when Saddam Hussein was in power. As a member of Iraq's interim council, he holds the presidency for one month.