Having been convicted and sentenced to death, Saddam Hussein is not asking for a pardon. He is merely asking to replace the gallows by a firing squad. He believes the latter would be more appropriate to his case since he considers himself a military man. Meanwhile, many analysts doubt that the Saddam’s execution will be carried out soon. According to them, the convict may spend years in prison and end up dying a natural death.
Clerics and politicians against the death sentence
Despite the fact that the judges are confident that the former Iraqi leader did commit horrendous against humanity, quite a few politicians and religious leaders around the world voiced opposition to the death sentence.
Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteen and current Dalai Lama, called on the Iraqi authorities to cancel Hussein’s death sentence and give the convict a chance for correction. The Russian Orthodox Church believes that Hussein could repent and correct himself if the authorities showed mercy toward the convict, according to a statement by High Priest Vsevolod Chaplin, a deputy chief of the Foreign Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Vatican, represented by Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Department of Peace and Justice, also stood up for the convict’s life by saying that the court has no right of taking anybody’s life for God alone has control over the human life.
Both foreign and Russian politicians do not seem to show much sympathy to Hussein’s personality. It stands to reason that only U.S. President George W. Bush and British officials openly approved the verdict. Other EU countries issued statements against the execution.
The Russian State Duma decided to catch up with the international community and expressed an opinion on the verdict. A draft statement authored by Alexei Mitrofanov, a Liberal Democratic Party deputy at the Duma, called for scraping of the verdict. However, the deputies opted to pass the document with a milder wording to warn that “the implementation of the death sentence will not by any means improve the current dire straits in Iraq . Moreover, it may bring about another bout of cruel confrontation marked by vengeance and enmity.”
Will Hussein’s “lawyers” be any good and help save his life in the end? Even if the PR campaign to stop his execution ends in failure, the former Iraqi dictator may stay alive for many years following the ongoing changes in the political situation in the United States .
The above Liberal Democratic Party’s deputy Alexei Mitrofanov is the only Russian politician who has his doubts as to Hussein’s chances of dying a natural death.
“Hussein has no chances of dying from natural causes because he knows too much,” said Mitrofanov. “Hussein is a clear and present danger to the U.S. Republican Party . Information indicating that Hussein had ties with that political force during the last century may come in handy for the Democrats during the upcoming presidential election in the U.S. Besides, some members of the Bush family haven’t yet held the post of U.S. president. Jeb Bush, George Bush’s brother, may be running for president this time. Therefore, the Republicans will try to get rid of Saddam ASAP,” added Mitrofanov, in an interview to Argumenty i Fakty.
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia’s leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who had ties with Hussein’s government, is far more optimistic about the fate of his “friend.” Speaking to Ekho Mosky radio recently, he called Hussein a long-playing record everybody needs to keep – America , Europe and the Muslim world alike. Zhirinovsky believes nobody has an intention to execute Hussein.
“Now all of them will go ah and oh while speculating at length ‘should we hang him or not’?” said Zhirinovsky. “They’re going to play at this sort of thing for years to come,” added he.
State Duma Deputy Igor Barinov, United Russia’s member and one of the authors of the Duma statement on Hussein’s verdict, also doubts that the former dictator will be sent to the gallows.
“Either the Iraqi president will issue Hussein a pardon or a hanging will replaced by a life imprisonment. The timing of the verdict was clearly linked to the congressional election. Now the execution can only make things worse in Iraq , it can only create more chaos out there,” said Barinov.
Professor Fasikh Baderkhan, a senior fellow with the Institute of the Middle East Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that both the Republicans and Democrats would benefit if they spared the condemned man’s life.
“The U.S. doesn’t need any major players in the Middle East anyway. So far the Americans used Saddam Hussein as a means for heating up the situation in order to finally split Iraq into three parts, the Kurds, the Shiites, and the Sunnis. Hussein could have been executed a lot earlier. They could have hanged him shortly after capturing him in December 2003. They didn’t have to wait for three years to do that,” said Baderkhan.
Baderkhan believes that the chances of Hussein’s execution have become much fewer since U.S. Congress is now controlled by the Democrats, which will not carry on with the old unpopular policies in Iraq pursued by the Republicans.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is no stranger to a debate over the issue of death sentences. Capital punishment is still in force in America . U.S. President George W. Bush is known for his statements in support of the “rightful use of capital punishment.”
Argumenty i Fakty
Translated by Guerman Grachev