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Berlin mum on Saddam death penalty

17 December 2003

BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s spokesman Wednesday refused to comment on calls by US President George W. Bush for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to get the death penalty.

Schroeder’s chief spokesman, Bela Anda, told reporters it was not clear if this was official US government policy.

“The German government assumes that there will be an orderly trial but it is not our job to determine how this trial takes place,” said Anda who refused to elaborate.

President Bush said Tuesday Saddam Hussein deserves the “ultimate penalty” for decades of violence and that the Iraqi people would have to decide their former leader’s fate.

Germany, like all countries in the European Union, has banned the death penalty.

Turning to a US decision to bar German firms from bidding for USD 19 billion of Iraq reconstruction contracts, Anda noted there were indications German companies would not be shut out of Iraq business.

The ban – because of German opposition to the Iraq war – only keeps out German companies as main bidders but allows them to work as sub-contractors.

Anda said Schroeder had made his views on this in a “very clear” manner to Bush’s Iraq debt envoy, former US secretary of state James Baker, who visited Berlin on Tuesday.

Germany and France have backed US calls for cutting Iraq’s foreign debt through a mixture of rescheduling and eliminating some of Baghdad’s foreign loan burden which totals up to USD 127 billion.

But Anda, while naming no figures, hinted the emphasis would be on rescheduling in talks due to be held among the 19 members of the Paris Club of creditor nations.

“What is important is that Iraq is potentially a rich country,” he underlined.


Subject: German news