Dutch FM: Saddam ‘must be tried in Iraq’
15 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Dutch political leaders have welcomed the arrest of Saddam Hussein. Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Sunday the former Iraqi leader should face justice in his home country.
The Christian Democrat CDA minister said a trial elsewhere, such as the recently-established International Court of Justice in The Hague, will send the wrong signal to the Iraqi people.
Iraq’s Governing Council confirmed Hussein is in Baghdad and that it wants him tried by an Iraqi tribunal. Minister Bot said in light of the fact the Iraqi people want to be in command of the legal process, a trial in Iraq will demonstrate “we have placed faith in the ability of the Iraqis”.
Hussein was captured on Saturday night just outside Tikrit, the northern Iraqi town where he was born. The former dictator was found hiding in an underground dugout close to a farmhouse. The US is treating him as a prisoner of war.
Bot said a cleansing process has started in the war-torn Iraq and that the Islamic nation’s population can now come to terms with its past. He said the trial of Hussein in Iraq is therefore appropriate, news agency ANP reported.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende sent a congratulatory telegram to US President George W. Bush. The CDA leader said the arrest of Hussein is the best news this year, Radio Netherlands reported
The Netherlands offered political, bit not military support to the US-led war against Iraq and has deployed about 1,170 peacekeeping and security troops in the south of the country.
The leader of main opposition party Labour PvdA, Wouter Bos, said the arrest of Hussein is “fantastic news for the Iraqis”. Despite the fact the PvdA opposed the war, Bos said he hopes “the arrest can contribute to a quicker construction of Iraq and a better future for all Iraqis”, news agency Novum reported.
Former Dutch Foreign Affairs minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer — who will become Nato chief in January — has also welcomed Hussein’s arrest.
Minister Bot expects also that the arrest of Hussein will accelerate the political developments in Iraq. “It takes away a shadow that had hung over Iraq. As long as he was not imprisoned, his supporters remained busy paving the way for his return.”
And in contrast to the almost daily attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi police targets, Bot said the number of attacks will decline following the arrest of the ousted Iraqi leader. But he also warned that peace has not yet returned to Iraq and that other groups might continue the terror attacks.
There are presently 1,100 Dutch soldiers (mostly marines) and 70 commandos stationed in the south of Iraq on peacekeeping duties and Bot believes the role of the troops will now become more important. And as peace gradually returns to the nation, their contribution to the nation’s stability will gain more weight, he said.
He dismissed concerns from parliamentary leaders that attacks might increase and said the troops are already on alert. The arrest of Hussein demonstrates to the Mid-East that a long-term dictatorship can be transformed into democracy and the Netherlands is gladly participating in this process, Bot said.
But the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Clifford Sobel, has refused to comment, saying that US Secretary of State Colin Powell “speaks for us all”. US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was ambassador to the Netherlands in the early 1990s.
Due to the fact the US and Britain cited Hussein’s attempts to amass weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as prime reason for the March invasion of Iraq, US officials have said he faces intense interrogation about the allegations. He will be also questioned about the ongoing insurgency against the US-led occupation.
Dutch Minister Bot said he expects greater clarity to come about the WMD allegations. He told US ambassador Sobel on Sunday that the former Iraqi leader must be strongly questioned about the nation’s WMD capabilities, but CNN has reported that Hussein has denied Iraq had such weapons before war started.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news + Saddam Hussein