- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, whose older brother was executed by Saddam Hussein, said yesterday there would be no tears for the former dictator when his trial begins tomorrow.

“I would like to see the trial take place and justice to be done, and be seen done,” Mr. al-Jaafari told a small group of journalists at dinner at his private residence.

“I do not rule out that there are groups who will use this opportunity to raise violence, but as far as Iraqis overall, there will be no tears for Saddam Hussein.”

Speaking over a festive table laid out under a blue velvet tent to break the daily Ramadan fast, Mr. al-Jaafari also said he was encouraged by signs that a new constitution had been approved in Saturday’s referendum and believed the success would help stabilize the country.

The once-feared Saddam and seven of his henchmen will go on trial tomorrow before a five-judge court for the 1982 massacre of more than 100 Shi’ite civilians after a failed assassination attempt.

Unprecedented security surrounds the proceedings, which will take place inside the fortified green zone in the capital. Reporters planning to cover the trial have been asked to provide reams of personal information, including whether they wear dentures.

Although his older brother and four cousins were executed by Saddam, Mr. al-Jaafari said he did not seek personal revenge.

“Irrespective of how I feel personally, this man has committed crimes against innocent people. He must be stopped and tried,” the prime minister said.

He said he tries “to forget” what happened to his relatives while he was in exile fighting against the Ba’athist regime, “because I would like my mind to be free — otherwise he would still control my mind.”

“I would like to ideally rise above the base emotions one has, but not to the point of compromising what is just and fair,” he said.

Mr. al-Jaafari was irritated by the length of time it has taken to put Saddam in the dock. U.S. troops dragged the former president out of an underground hideaway in December 2003, and he has been in U.S. custody ever since.

Mr. al-Jaafari also welcomed reports that Sunnis, who make up about 20 percent of the population and enjoyed a position of privilege under Saddam, had turned out in large numbers for Saturday’s referendum.

He said the turnout indicated that the political process finally had begun to take hold among the Sunnis, who largely boycotted parliamentary elections in January, cutting themselves off from political power.

Officials of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) said the turnout figures were so high in some Sunni areas as to raise suspicions.

“We have seen from statements coming from most governorates indicating such high numbers that require us to recheck, compare and audit them, as they are unusually high according to international standards,” the IECI said.

Random samples were to be taken from ballot boxes coming in from various governorates and double-checked, the IECI said.

But Mr. al-Jaafari, who will seek re-election as prime minister in December, said he believed the referendum results would undercut the gruesome insurgency that has left thousands dead across the country.

“One cannot say the ‘yes’ vote is going to end all forms of violence. There are some elements who are committed terrorists, and against the process no matter what the outcome,” he said.

“But with the consolidation of the political process, we have denied them access to many citizens who were sitting on the fence. We have weakened the insurgency by strengthening the process.”

Mr. al-Jaafari said he hoped the process would be even more inclusive on Dec. 15, when — assuming the constitution is approved — Iraqis elect a new four-year National Assembly.

But he had sharp words for political parties whose actions, he said, have deepened divisions in Iraq since the January elections.

“I am critical of political parties who have turned the equation upside down, and instead of competing to serve the nation, they have competed to serve themselves,” he said.

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