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Viewing cable 07BAGHDAD146, DEPUTY PROSECUTOR DESCRIBES TO AMBASSADOR SADDAM'S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD146 2007-01-15 08:08 2010-12-05 12:12 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO7966
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0146/01 0150817
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 150817Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9079
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000146 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: DEPUTY PROSECUTOR DESCRIBES TO AMBASSADOR SADDAM'S 
EXECUTION, CONTROVERSIES 

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1. (C) Summary: In a January 6 meeting with the Ambassador, 
Deputy Prosecutor Monqith Al-Faroun described Saddam's 
execution, including the people present, the cell phone video 
and the verbal taunts from guards at the scene. He stated 
that he saw two Iraqi officials using their phones and that 
once the taunting began he admonished the crowd to stay 
silent. The Ambassador questioned the execution's timing - 
one hour before Sunni Eid began - to which al-Faroun replied 
that religious scholars concluded Eid did not start until 
sunrise and therefore the execution could proceed. He 
attributed international condemnation for the execution's 
timing to the fact that many countries are against the death 
penalty. He said that President Talabani did not have the 
authority to change a sentence handed down from the Iraqi 
High Tribunal which is why he was not asked to sign a decree. 
When asked what would be different about the two remaining 
executions, al-Faroun replied that only required witnesses - 
a prosecutor, judge, a religious leader and the prison 
director - would be allowed inside. End Summary. 

--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
HOW IT HAPPENED: LAST MINUTE PLANS, GATHERING THE WITNESSES 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 

2. (C) The Ambassador began the meeting thanking Al-Faroun 
for his courage, noting that it was not a risk-free endeavor 
"bringing Saddam to justice." He noted that what happened 
during the execution "tainted" the entire episode and asked 
for the prosecutor's perspective. "We need to look back in 
order to look forward," the Ambassador said, referencing the 
two other executions still scheduled to occur in January. 
Al-Faroun described arriving at the Prime Minister's 
Residence on December 29 after he was informed the execution 
would occur early the next morning. Included in the planning 
and discussions were a group of Iraqi advisors from the PM's 
office and other GOI officials, including National Security 
Advisor Muwafuq Rubaie. 

3. (C) Following this meeting, al-Faroun said, the fourteen 
officials went directly to the helicopter landing zone, LZ 
Washington located in the International Zone adjacent to the 
Embassy Annex, for travel aboard a MNF-I helicopter to the 
execution site. At LZ Washington American personnel searched 
everyone and took the passengers' cell phones, al-Faroun 
explained. It was a very "thorough" search, he said. (Note: 
The Iraqi officials were searched by U.S. Marshals, who took 
the cell phones for operational security reasons and returned 
the cell phones once the 14 passengers landed in LZ 
Washington following the execution. They also checked to 
ensure that no weapons were carried on the aircraft. End 
Note). The fourteen officials then boarded two helicopters 
for the flight to northeastern Baghdad where the execution 
occurred. The Ambassador asked if al-Faroun knew about a van 
that allegedly arrived at the execution site with additional 
people wanting to witness the execution. Al-Faroun did not 
know about the van, but said the only witnesses to the actual 
execution were the fourteen that arrived via helicopter and 
the guards already at the location. 

4. (S) Comment: During a final, hasty meeting the evening of 
29 December, Dr. Rubaie stated to Ambassador Scobey and MG 
Gardner that the GOI had developed a plan for the remaining 
logistical details and accepted the responsibility for the 
execution. The US would securely transport Saddam to the 
site, transfer custody, and potentially help with the 
transportation of remains. No US personnel would be present 
at the execution or in the adjacent courtyard. The GOI 
witness list changed several times prior to the execution and 
at one point included 20-30 personnel. MNF-I agreed to fly 
14 witnesses from LZ Washington. The GOI ultimately decided 
that other witnesses would travel by car. About one hour 
prior to the execution an SUV arrived at the base. The 
guards manning the base entry point searched the vehicle for 
weapons and explosives and then allowed the vehicle to 
proceed to the execution building. The vehicle included six 
personnel identified by the GOI as their video personnel and 
PSD. We do not know if this group was searched by Iraqi 
guards at the execution site. It is also unknown which of 
the 6 actually entered the execution building as no US 
personnel were in the courtyard or building. After the 
transfer of physical custody of Saddam inside the holding 
cell building, MNF-I personnel moved away from the execution 
site to positions around the small MOJ compound. The GOI was 
responsible for the execution building, access to the 
building and courtyard, and the conduct of the execution. 
The GOI's lack of a clear and coordinated plan to control the 
witnesses and conduct the execution resulted in a hastily run 
and confusing event. End Comment 

BAGHDAD 00000146 002 OF 003 




--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
FINAL PLANS: UNTIL THIS POINT, NOTHING IMPROPER OCCURRED 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 

5. (C) Al-Faroun and the judge immediately separated from the 
group to meet with Saddam, read the verdict and escort him to 
the execution room. Al-Faroun said he "sympathized" with 
Saddam who entered with his covered head, hands tied and 
shaking involuntarily. The judge then read the verdict and 
the death sentence. At that point Al-Faroun said, Saddam 
became more animated and began speaking, "as if he were still 
the President." Once the readings had finished, al-Faroun 
explained, the three men, accompanied by four prison guards, 
walked down a long corridor lined with the fourteen witnesses 
to the room where the execution would occur. 

6. (S) The Ambassador asked whether this was the same site 
Saddam used to execute Dawa party members. Al-Faroun 
affirmed that it was the same place, but noted that it had 
also been used for other executions as well. EmbOff 
confirmed the location has been used previously and that 
Americans constructed the execution platform. Al-Faroun 
interjected that the original platform was not built to 
proper standards, and that as a result criminals were 
suffering during execution. The new platform requires 
prisoners to climb a flight of stairs and ensures less 
suffering, al-Faroun said. The Ambassador then asked whether 
the four guards were members of Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM), the 
militia loyal to Shia extremist Moqtada al-Sadr. Al-Faroun 
replied that as far as he knew they were official prison 
guards. 

7. (C) Rubaie then approached Saddam and asked him if he was 
afraid. Saddam responded that he was not afraid, that he had 
been "anticipating this moment" since he first came to power, 
knowing that as President he had many enemies. Saddam had 
been holding a Koran and asked who among the witnesses would 
ensure Awad al-Bandar's son received it. Al-Faroun agreed to 
take the book and after Saddam handed it to him the guards 
retied his hands. Al-Faroun emphasized that up until this 
point nothing "improper" had occurred. 

--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
...AND THEN THE TAUNTING, THE YELLING, THE PHOTOS BEGIN 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 

8. (S) The guards then began to tie Saddam's feet at which 
point he asked who would help him climb the stairs. It was 
at this moment, al-Faroun said, that a guard told Saddam to 
"go to hell." Al-Faroun raised his voice immediately and 
warned people that "he would not allow the guards or 
witnesses to speak" to Saddam. He turned around, he said, to 
further admonish the witnesses and saw two government 
officials openly taking photos with their mobile phones. 

9. (S) Two guards escorted Saddam upstairs and offered to 
cover his head with a hood. Saddam refused. The executioner 
explained that the noose could cut his neck and offered him a 
cloth to prevent any pain. The prison guards, standing below 
the platform watched Saddam as he prayed. Before Saddam 
finished, al-Faroun said, one person shouted "Moqtada, 
Moqtada, Moqtada." The prosecutor claimed that he again 
raised his voice to silence the witnesses. This disruption, 
he said, occurred only once and did not delay the execution. 
Saddam Hussein died instantaneously. He was removed from the 
platform and placed in a bag. A religious leader later 
ensured that Saddam's body had been washed according to 
Islamic custom. 

--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
CONTROVERSIES - TIMING AND LEGAL ISSUES - AND LESSONS LEARNED 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 

10. (S) Al-Faroun told the Ambassador that despite the 
controversies, he witnessed "a condemned person convicted in 
a legal trial" which had proven Saddam "killed thousands." 
The Ambassador agreed that Saddam's supporters would use the 
execution as an excuse to condemn what had been a fair and 
just trial. However, he continued, there were many people 
who had been happy to see Saddam brought to justice who were 
now upset by how the execution occurred. The Ambassador 
asked about the execution's timing, commenting that having 
the execution one hour before Sunni's celebrated Eid has 
angered some people. Al-Faroun replied that there are both 
social and legal opinions about implementing the death 
penalty during holidays. The legal opinion, he said, states 
that criminals cannot be executed on a holiday. The GOI 
examined the timing, he said, and experts concluded that if 

BAGHDAD 00000146 003 OF 003 


it finished before sunrise it would not coincide with Eid. 
The social opinion shared by some members of the 
international community, he continued, is that the death 
penalty should not be used at any time regardless of whether 
it occurs during a holiday. Al-Faroun disregarded this 
argument, noting that law "does not take into account 
people's feelings." 

11. (S) The Ambassador stated that some have questioned the 
execution's legality given the absence of an "administrative 
affirmation" from President Talabani. The Ambassador noted 
that if the PM did not believe an affirmation was necessary, 
they should have asked Iraqi Chief Justice Medhat to declare 
this in writing. The prosecutor responded that under Iraqi 
law the President has the ability to reduce sentences for 
normal crimes. Saddam's sentence was not presented to the 
President because in this instance he had no authority to 
commute the sentence. Article 27 of the Iraqi Criminal 
Courts law, al-Faroun said, states that sentences issued from 
the Iraqi High Tribunal cannot be reduced. The reason for 
this, he explained, is because cases prosecuted here are 
crimes against humanity instead of crimes against Iraq. An 
Iraqi leader, therefore, does not have the authority to 
reduce these sentences. 

12. (C) The Ambassador asked al-Faroun what the GOI will 
change in the next two upcoming executions. Al-Faroun 
responded emphatically that the only witnesses who will be 
permitted are those required by law: a public prosecutor, a 
judge, a religious leader and the prison director. This, he 
concluded, will prevent unacceptable behavior and unnecessary 
controversy. 
KHALILZAD