British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the
conviction of Saddam Hussein on charges of
crimes against humanity is
a stark reminder of conditions in Iraq under the former leader's regime.
Mr. Blair refused to directly support the sentence, however, noting
Britain's opposition to the death penalty.
Mr. Blair told reporters in London the verdict handed down against Saddam
Hussein is a reminder of the "sheer terror" of that regime.
"The trial of Saddam gives us a chance to see again what the past in
Iraq was - the brutality, the tyranny, the hundreds-of-thousands of people
that he killed, the wars in which there were a million casualties," he
Mr. Blair said he viewed it as a sign of optimism that Saddam was tried
by an Iraqi court for crimes he committed against his own people.
But, in a very testy exchange with one reporter, Mr. Blair refused to
support the Iraqi court's sentence. Questions on the issue persisted, and
the prime minister later was more direct.
"We are against the death penalty - we're against the death penalty, whether it's Saddam
or anybody else," concluded Mr. Blair.
The verdict against Saddam has received mixed reactions. U.S. President
Bush praised the trial as an important achievement for Iraq's young
The European Union, which opposes the death penalty, said the former
Iraqi leader should not be executed. The human rights group, Amnesty
International also opposes the death penalty and criticized the trial
itself as not having been fair or impartial.
The death sentence for Saddam and two co-defendants was handed down
Sunday. Their sentences are subject to an automatic appeal.