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Britain welcomes Saddam death verdict

Reuters | November 5, 2006

Britain welcomed the death sentence verdict against Saddam Hussein on Sunday as "the ultimate expression of the sovereignty of Iraq", even though the British government opposes capital punishment.

Saddam and two others were sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity for the deaths of Shi'ites killed after a failed assassination attempt on the ousted leader.

"I welcome that

Saddam Hussein and the other defendants have faced justice and have been held to account for their crimes," Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in a statement.
"Appalling crimes were committed by Saddam Hussein's regime.

It is right that those accused of such crimes against the Iraqi people should face Iraqi justice."

Home Secretary John Reid, who led British troops in Iraq as Defence Secretary until earlier this year, said Britain's own views on the death penalty did not matter.

"We fought for them to be masters of their own destiny. Now we must accept them doing what they want to do," he told BBC television.

"It is in a sense the ultimate expression of the sovereignty of Iraq. They are masters of their own destiny. And they have taken a decision today as controllers of that destiny which I think all of us ought to respect."

Britain carried out its last execution in 1964 and formally abolished the death penalty for all offences in 1999.

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