Saddam captured

15 December 2003
The former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, was detained by US forces in Iraq after an operation involving some 600 soldiers on two remote targets near Tikrit, north of Baghdad. The news of Saddam's arrest was welcomed with jubilation in Iraq and with celebrations from Iraqis around the world, but has raised questions of how the matter will be dealt with by the US-led coalition.

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator Iraq, Paul Bremer, broke the news of the arrest in a press conference. 'Ladies and gentlemen, we got him', Bremer exclaimed, before describing the course of events leading to Saddam's detention. 'With the arrest of Saddam Hussein, there is a new opportunity for the members of the former regime, whether military or civilian, to end their bitter opposition,' he said. 'Let them now come forward in a spirit of reconciliation and hope, lay down their arms and join you, their fellow citizens, in the task of building the new Iraq.' The US commander in charge of operations in Iraq, Ricardo Sanchez, said that Hussain had been arrested with two automatic rifles, a pistol, $750,000, and that soldiers had found a white and orange taxi, thought to be Hussain's mode of transport since the fall of his regime. Two other Iraqis associated with Hussein were also detained, he added.

US President Bush said that Saddam's arrest was 'crucial to the rise of a free Iraq,' and that it marked 'the end of the road for him and all who bullied and killed in his name'. However, Bush warned that Saddam's arrest would not put an end to militant attacks against coalition forces in Iraq. 'The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq,' he said. 'We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East.'

Saddam's arrest has raised questions on how he will be tried for his crimes. Speaking on behalf of the Iraqi interim Governing Council, Ahmed Chalabi stressed that Hussain would be tried in Iraq under the newly-formed tribunal. 'Saddam will stand a public trial so that the Iraqi people will know his crimes,' Chalabi told local television station, Al-Iraqiya. US officials have said that Hussain would 'face justice', and would be tried by Iraqi judges, although no details for the trial have been released. 'No-one would want to turn anyone over until and unless there was a process in place that was acceptable and appropriate and would ensure that [Hussain] would be brought to justice,' US Defence Secretary Donanld Rumsfeld told reporters.

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