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Iraq: Bush Urges Transparent Public Trial For Hussein

Washington, 15 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush says the trial of Saddam Hussein (pictured following his arrest) should be transparent, should involve the Iraqi people, and must withstand international scrutiny. Bush spoke at a year-end White House news conference today following the capture of Iraq's former leader.

"What needs to happen is he [Saddam Hussein] needs to be brought to justice and the Iraqi citizens need to be very much involved in the development of a system that brings him to justice. And there needs to be a public trial and all of the atrocities need to come out and justice needs to be delivered, and I'm confident it will be done in a fair way," Bush said.

Bush brushed aside a question whether he favors Hussein's execution by saying his personal views do not matter. The president said a trial would bring out all the atrocities committed by Hussein and lead to justice.

Saddam Hussein was captured on 13 December by U.S. troops who found him in a tiny hole in the ground beneath a small walled compound. The former Iraqi ruler is being held by U.S. authorities at an undisclosed location.

Bush said his message to Hussein is: "Good riddance. The world is better off without you."

Despite the arrest of Hussein, Bush said the work of the U.S.-led military coalition remains dangerous in Iraq because of die-hard elements of the former regime.