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Bush: Saddam Sentence a Milestone for Iraq

  • VOA News

President Bush has welcomed Saddam Hussein's conviction and death sentence, calling it a milestone for democracy in Iraq.

Mr. Bush, speaking hours after Saddam was sentenced, said the trial is an important achievement for Iraq. He added that Saddam will continue to receive the legal rights he denied Iraqis under his rule.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says it is welcome news that Saddam and his co-defendants will face justice for what she calls their "appalling crimes."

Britain opposes the death penalty, but Beckett says it is right for the Iraqi people to decide how Saddam and his aides should be punished.

The United Nations human rights chief, Louise Arbour, called on Iraq not to execute Saddam, even if the death sentence is upheld through appeals. The European Union also stressed its opposition to the death penalty in all cases.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, praised the Iraqi judges and attorneys involved in the trial for their courage in the face of intimidation.

Three of Saddam's lawyers were murdered during the trial, prompting the defense team to complain that the Iraqi government's security precautions were inadequate.
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