Interview with Saddam Hussein's Prosecutor: "The Execution Was Done Correctly"
Iraqi prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon, 53, discusses the execution of former dictator Saddam Hussein and the investigation into the execution video that is now circulating on the Internet.
Munqith al-Faroon: "It isn't unlike the hunt. First you hunt down the animal, but once you look your prey in the eyes, you ultimately feel pity. That was the way I felt."
SPIEGEL: Mr. Prosecutor, you were a witness to the execution of Saddam Hussein. What did you see and hear?
Faroon: I, together with 13 other official observers, was flown by helicopter from the Green Zone to the execution site. There were seven of us in each helicopter. We entered the execution chamber, where there were already four other people: the condemned man and three masked men. Two of these men prepared Saddam Hussein for the execution, and the third man later opened the trap door.
SPIEGEL: How many people were present in total?
Faroon: Only the 14 official observers, Saddam and three masked men. However, the door between the execution chamber and another room was open, and a few men gathered at this door over time -- guards who had been assigned to protect this facility.
SPIEGEL: Who shouted the first insults at Saddam?
Faroon: It was one of those guards, who called out the name of Muqtada al-Sadr.
SPIEGEL: If this man can be identified -- did he commit a crime?
Faroon: No. And I attach importance to the conclusion that the execution was done correctly -- as required by the law. Otherwise I would have stopped the procedure at that point.
SPIEGEL: Who was it who called out to Saddam that he should go "to hell?"
Faroon: It was one of the official observers, and this also made me especially angry. My reaction can be heard on the video: "Please stop. This man is being executed." There had already been an angry exchange between Saddam and one of his guards. Saddam said, speaking to all of us: "I built Iraq for you." One of the guards replied: "Oh, and what else have you done for us?" I stepped in and said: "I will not permit anyone to say anything here."
SPIEGEL: You have said that two official observers filmed the execution with their mobile phones. Who were they?
Faroon: That is the subject of the investigation that has now been launched.
SPIEGEL: The video was apparently shot from the stairs to the gallows. Who was standing there?
Faroon: The execution chamber is about six by four meters (20 by 13 feet) in size. The stairs to the gallows lead up from the door at the left, which was open. That was where the court guards had gathered. We 14 officials were standing in a row along the wall, from right to left. The last of the officials stood directly at the open door.
SPIEGEL: If the author of the video is identified, what will he be charged with?
Faroon: It depends. Filming the video alone was undoubtedly against the law. But it would have been a criminal act, in a narrower sense, if it is determined that the film was made and distributed with the intention of inciting religious tensions. If the investigation arrives at this conclusion, the defendant will be punished -- no matter what his position in the government is. He can expect a fine at the very least, and possibly even a prison term of up to six months.
SPIEGEL: Who is directing this investigation?
Faroon: That's the business of the government and the justice minister. We members of the Iraqi Special Tribunal are not responsible. The length of this investigation will depend in part on the experience of the investigators and the quality of their work. It could take a few weeks, or perhaps even months.
SPIEGEL: It was apparently a very tense atmosphere.
Faroon: Saddam and one of his co-defendants threatened me personally during the trial. "We will pursue you," Saddam said, "here in the courtroom and outside." His supporters made good on this threat. My brother was murdered a month ago. But even though I was Saddam's opponent in the trial, I behaved very correctly during the execution. It isn't unlike the hunt. First you hunt down the animal, but once you look your prey in the eyes, you ultimately feel pity. That was the way I felt.
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