Dramatic Capture Sparks Street Celebrations, Talk of Trial
Saddam, who was caught Saturday night in a dugout next to a farmhouse outside Tikrit, was reportedly cooperative at the time of his capture, submitting to medical examinations and talking to authorities.
Iraqi Governing Council members said they want to keep Saddam in Iraq to stand trial. However, U.S. officials Sunday morning did not go beyond saying he would remain at an undisclosed location for the time being.
Iraqi Governing Council member Adnan Pachachi said at a press conference in Baghdad that members of the council saw Saddam and can confirm he is in custody.
“Of course this is today a historical day and it is a day of overwhelming joy and pleasure that is being felt by the Iraqi people,” Pachachi said through a translator. The Iraqi people “were waiting patiently and now thank God for the arrest of the tyrant.”
President of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmad Chalabi said Iraq would continue working on security problems and repairing war-damaged infrastructure. The oil-rich country’s fuel shortage, which has caused long lines of cars waiting to get gas, will be resolved, he said.
Other council members said Saddam will undergo a public trail for crimes against humanity, so the Iraqi people will be aware of his crimes. It will not be a vindictive trial but a civil one that demonstrates the country’s burgeoning democracy, the council said.
Another council member through a translator described Saddam as “not apologetic” and “sarcastic about the Iraqi people.”
Although images on television showed Iraqi people riding in cars and cheering the arrest, some felt the capture may add fuel to what they see as President Bush’s campaign against Arabs and Muslims after Sept. 11.
“I only wish it was not the Americans who got him,” Reuters quoted Syrian student Abdul-Nasser as saying. “I don’t like Saddam but as an Arab I wouldn’t like to see them (Americans) dragging him around Baghdad.”
Others described Saddam as a “symbol of defiance to the U.S. plans in the region,” and said attacks against occupying forces would continue.
Despite news of the arrest, violence continued in Iraq Sunday. A car bomb exploded Sunday morning near a police station in Khalidiyah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding 33 – none from American or allied forces, a U.S. officer said.
Pools of blood, shattered glass and scattered shoes littered the street. The remains of a twisted car lay outside the two-story station. A partially destroyed stone wall around the structure appeared to have borne the brunt of the blast, according to Reuters.
U.S. Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher told reporters at the scene that there was “some evidence” of a suicide bomber.
In addition, a U.S. soldier was killed Sunday when an explosive device he was trying to defuse blew up, the U.S. military said. The ordnance disposal specialist was approaching the device when it exploded.