Iraq: US forces detain 23 as international criticism over Saddam video grows

Published January 3rd, 2007 - 08:59 GMT

American forces detained 23 people suspected of ties to senior al-Qaeda leaders in raids Wednesday morning in western Iraq, the US military said. The raids took place in Ramadi, the AP added.


Three of the suspects detonated an improvised explosive device, then ran into a house. American troops shot one of the suspects, injuring him as he tried to flee, the military said in a statement.


Meanwhile, the grainy cell phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution has continued to draw international criticism, with Britain's deputy prime minister calling the leaked images "unacceptable" and the Vatican decrying the footage as a "spectacle" violating human rights.


The unofficial video showed a scene that stopped just short of pandemonium, during which one person is heard shouting "To hell!" at the ousted president and Saddam is heard exchanging insults with the people who came to watch his execution. The footage also showed Saddam plummeting through the gallows trapdoor and dangling in death.


The grainy video appeared on the Internet and Al-Jazeera television late Saturday. On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation into the execution to try to uncover who taunted the former president, and who leaked the cell phone footage.


British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said those who leaked the footage should be condemned. "I think the manner was quite deplorable really. I don't think one can endorse in any way that, whatever your views about capital punishment," Prescott said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio.


"Frankly, to get the kind of recorded messages coming out is totally unacceptable and I think whoever is involved and responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves."


The Holy See's daily, L'Osservatore Romano, lamented that "making a spectacle" of the execution had turned capital punishment into "an expression of political hubris."


The execution "represented, for the ways in which it happened and for the media attention it received, another example of the violation of the most basic rights of man," L'Osservatore wrote.



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