Bush Says ?Good Riddance? to Saddam Seeks Trial

BAGHDAD (Reuters)–Suicide car bombs killed nine Iraqis on Monday as George Bush said "terrorists" in Iraq remained dangerous despite Saddam Hussein’s capture.

The US president vowed his forces would stay until their job was done and said "good riddance" to the Iraqi ex-president.

Saddam’s whereabouts remained a secret but his future became clearer as Bush and Iraqi leaders insisted he be tried in Iraq–where he could face execution.

"We will work with the Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will stand international scrutiny," Bush told a news conference. "Of course it will be fair."

"Iraqis need to be very much involved–they were the people who were brutalized by him."

More details emerged of how the ousted dictator was caught on Saturday in a hole in the ground near his home town–Tikrit.

Despite his unkempt–bewildered look seen around the world on a US military film–he reacted as if still in power.

"I’m Saddam Hussein–I’m the president of Iraq and I’m willing to negotiate," one US official quoted him as saying.

"The response from soldiers was: ‘President Bush sends his regards’."

Members of the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council said Saddam was still in Iraq and would face trial.

Asked if the death penalty could be considered–Council leader Abdelaziz al-Hakim said: "Yes–absolutely."

Human rights groups say Iraq lacks judges–lawyers–and institutions to conduct fair trials without help–but British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was confident it would manage.

As jubilant Iraqis contemplated Saddam’s humiliation–violence flared again. Two suicide car bombings at Baghdad area police stations killed both drivers and seven other people–and wounded 32 others.


In Tikrit–which long basked in the reflected glory of its famous son–US soldiers used batons to disperse protesters who were chanting: "We sacrifice our blood and souls for you Saddam."

At a protest in the capital–police fired into the air to disperse hundreds of people chanting: "We want Saddam back."

Markets welcomed Saddam’s capture. Stocks and the dollar rose and oil prices fell on expectations of fewer attacks on Iraq’s oil industry.

Time magazine–quoting a US intelligence official–said Saddam denied having had weapons of mass destruction.

"The US dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us," it quoted the 66-year-old as saying.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tried to dampen hopes of finally finding the elusive weapons–saying: "I’m not holding my breath for any confessional statement from Saddam Hussein."

An Iraqi official who met Saddam said the prisoner was a "broken man" with no remorse.

"He was–I think–psychologically ruined and very demoralized. His body language showed that he was very miserable," said Governing Council member Muwaffaq al-Rubaiye.

"He felt safer with the Americans. I think that indicates that probably he is cooperating with the Americans."

He predicted Saddam would be convicted for a campaign of genocide against Iraq’s Kurds and war crimes stemming from the invasions of Iran and Kuwait during his ruthless years in power.


Saddam–who had urged his troops to go down fighting US-led invaders–was armed but surrendered without a shot–unlike his two trusted sons who died with guns blazing in July.

His compliant end–looking like anything but the commander of a resistance movement–brought contempt.

"The person we saw is Saddam Hussein–collapsed–scared and a coward as he surrendered at the first chance," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said he should be treated like any prisoner of war and expected to visit him.

Iran’said it was preparing a case for an international court against Saddam over the 1980-1988 war–in which 300,000 Iranians were killed–including thousands in Iraqi chemical attacks.

"I hope that we get the chance to try him our way–to let everyone who suffered make him taste what he had made us taste," said Ali Hussein–a Baghdad shopkeeper still "dizzy with joy."


The army was led to Saddam–hiding near a shepherd’s hut in an orange grove — by a wealthy local arrested on Saturday.

Saddam–with a $25 million reward on his head–was disorientated when found at night in the hole–its entrance covered with polystyrene and a rug. He had $750,000 with him.

US officials have long blamed attacks in Iraq on Saddam loyalists but also on Islamic militants backed by the al Qaeda network–whose leader Osama bin Laden is still evading capture.

"We continue our hunt for al Qaeda leaders and al Qaeda cells in many countries," Bush said.

Monday’s attacks were the latest of a wave that have killed nearly 200 American soldiers and even more Iraqi policemen and civilians since Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

If anyone imagined Saddam’s arrest would bring swift peace–the words of US-trained Iraqi policeman Ahmed Ali may cause a rethink.

"We want this to lead to more attacks on the Americans," he said–standing near US soldiers he works with in Falluja. "We all love Saddam."


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