European Press Review: Putting Saddam On Trial | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.12.2003
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European Press Review: Putting Saddam On Trial

Editorials across Europe on Tuesday considered the fall-out from Saddam Hussein's arrest and look at plans for the former dictator's trial.

De Volkskrant in the Netherlands commented that the pictures of a dishevelled Saddam aroused repugnance against the United States in many Arab countries. But the paper pointed out that regimes like those of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt will have been warned to close the gap between themselves and their people if they don’t want the same to happen to them.

Kommersant in Moscow, meanwhile, thought the arrest of Saddam will drive more people to embrace Muslim fundamentalism. Many in the Arab world see the arrest of the man who in their eyes led the resistance against "American-Zionist aggression" as a deep humiliation and will now seek revenge against the U.S.

In Paris, Le Figaro wrote that by making his father’s dream come true, George W. Bush has proved that no-one gets away with mocking America. But it would be a huge mistake, the paper said, not to do everything possible to usher in a new era for Iraq.

France's Le Monde suggested a special United Nations tribunal in Baghdad with Iraqi and international judges to try Saddam. Even though the U.S. doesn’t recognise the International Criminal Court, it would get credit for a history-making solution.

An investigation into all of Saddam Hussein's crimes is crucial to Iraq’s psychological well-being, said Austria’s Die Presse, but it stressed that a show trial should be avoided. The British have rejected the death penalty, but the majority of Americans want to see precisely that, the paper suggested.

Austrian paper Der Standard thought that like Pontius Pilate, the U.S. will probably hand Saddam over to the Iraqis to avoid the accusation that they're exacting victor’s justice.

Observing that the U.S. appears to prefer an Iraqi court with the participation of international experts, Libération in Paris suggested a special international court under the aegis of the United Nations with Iraqi participation. The trial would have to be public. The paper said that the decision on the structure of the court will be of fundamental importance to the new Iraqi republic.

In Italy, La Repubblica argued that many are interested in keeping Iraq a permanent battleground. More than all the others -- perhaps even more than the Americans -- the Saudis, Syrians, Turks and above all the Iranians hold Iraq’s future in their hands. Bush is aware of this, said the paper, but hasn’t decided what conclusions to draw. The election campaign comes first.