Saturday 18 November 2017

WikiLeaks: Saddam Hussein told to 'go to hell' before execution

Christopher Hope

Saddam Hussein was told to "go to hell" moments before he was executed, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

The execution of the Iraqi dictator in December 2006 sparked an outcry after mobile phone video was published showing him being taunted as he was about to be hanged.

According to a secret cable, Iraqi deputy prosecutor Monqith al-Faroun said a guard escorting Saddam to the execution platform had told him to "go to hell".

The comments were made to then-US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and subsequently reported in a communique sent in January 2007.

Al-Faroun reported how he saw Iraqi officials at the execution taking photographs with their mobile phone cameras, despite the fact they were prohibited.

As Saddam was conducting his final prayer before being hanged, one witness shouted, "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada", in reference to the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who rose to prominence after Saddam's fall from power.

The author of the cable, whose identity is unclear, told Washington: "The GOI's [Government of Iraq] lack of a clear and coordinated plan to control the witnesses and conduct the execution resulted in a hastily run and confusing event."

The cable, classified as "secret", noted that the Iraqi witness list for the execution changed "several times prior to the execution and at one point included 20-30 personnel".

Khalilzad told Faroun, the cable said, that "Saddam's supporters would use the execution as an excuse to condemn what had been a fair and just trial".

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