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Germany

Berlin Criticizes Bush for Saddam Death Penalty Insinuation

Just hours before a visit by the head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Abdel Asis el-Hakim, to Berlin, a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called for a fair trial for captured former leader Saddam Hussein and criticized comments by U.S. President George W. Bush insinuating Saddam should receive the death penalty. "I don’t generally regard proclamations anticipating the results of a legal procedure to be smart," chancellery spokesman Bela Anda told reporters. On Tuesday, Bush said Saddam deserved the "ultimate penalty" for his brutal reign in Iraq, an allusion to the death penalty that drew severe criticism from both the German government and opposition politicians. The Social Democrats foreign policy spokesman, Gernot Erler, accused Bush of making "populist" statements. Meanwhile, the conservative Christian Democratic Union’s foreign policy spokesman, Ruprecht Polenz, said Saddam must receive a fair trial.