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Al-Maliki Calls Hussein Hanging 'Domestic Affair'

A video grab of the official state television broadcast of Hussein's execution on December 30 (epa) January 6, 2006 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says former President Saddam Hussein's execution was a "domestic affair" and warned that his government might "reconsider" relations with countries that have criticized the hanging.

Hussein was executed on December 30 after a court rejected his appeal of a conviction for crimes against humanity in connection with the death of 148 Shi'a in 1982.

A number of international leaders have criticized Hussein's hanging, saying it appeared as a sectarian lynching rather than a court-directed punishment.

"The execution of the dictator is a domestic affair," al-Maliki said. "It is related to the Iraqi people alone and we reject and condemn all official and unofficial statements made by some governments. We are really surprised that certain government statements condemned the showing of the execution on a holy day, knowing that these governments are aware that Saddam had interfered in these holy matters in the last 35 years."

"The Iraqi government may have to reconsider its relations with any country that does not respect the will of the Iraqi people," al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, said today that Hussein received a fair trial and his execution benefits Iraqi unity. Al-Maliki also insisted the former dictator's hanging was not a political act.

A clandestine video that showed Shi'ite guards taunting Hussein on the gallows has angered his fellow Sunni Arabs and increased sectarian tension.

The strongest criticism has come from European Union states that oppose the death penalty and also Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has said the execution turned Hussein into a "martyr."

Reports have meanwhile swirled surrounding the possible execution of two of Hussein's codefendants in the trial into the killing of 148 Shi'a in Al-Dujayl following an abortive assassination attempt on Hussein in 1982.

The two are Hussein's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, who headed Hussein's intelligence service, and Awad al-Bandar, the former head of the Revolutionary Court.

The European Union and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have urged Iraqi officials not to proceed with those executions.

The U.S. military has said it was not involved in the execution, but merely transported Hussein to the appointed location as it had done throughout his trial.

(Reuters, AFP)

Saddam Hussein: Looking Back

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