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  • Hung, drawn and quartered: a penalty worth paying?

    by SajiniW
    6th November, 2006 at 7:22 am    

    Witness the latest news from Iraq - their former president Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death for ordering the killing of 148 individuals in 1982.

    An automatic appeals process was immediately launched, so his proposed hanging could take some time. The ex-president is still under trial for allegedly gassing thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s. He is scheduled to be back in court Tuesday for the next hearing in the aforementioned case.

    Coming just two days before the American midterm elections, the Iraqi court’s sentence of a hanging death has given President Bush the first opportunity in weeks to speak of a success in Iraq. Whether this ruling can be considered a success remains to be seen; after all, the invasion which led to his capture went ahead despite considerable opposition from the international community.

    New waves of violence and revenge attacks are expected in the aftermath of this ruling.

    How do you feel about the verdict? Does capital punishment have a role in a civilised democratic world?

    Sunny adds: Nosemonkey makes some good points on the legal position.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Current affairs

    33 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Nav — on 6th November, 2006 at 8:55 am  

      I think it would have been better if Saddam was tried in the Hague and imprisoned for life, but the Iraqi people also have the right to try him themselves, and if they’re going to execute other criminals, certainly he warrants hanging. But no, I don’t really think the capital punishment has a place in a civilized democratic world.

    2. Bert Preast — on 6th November, 2006 at 9:46 am  

      Closure is needed. There are still people killing in Saddam’s name while he’s in prison, and if this stops only one of them it’s very much worth it. His sons are dead so when he gets his neck stretched, that’s that. Good thing.

    3. Nindy — on 6th November, 2006 at 10:27 am  

      I don’t advocate the death penality. There is something inherently malevolent in the idea that a form of punishment for an inhumane act - murder, crimes against humanity, etc - should be death. In the end, you’re lowering yourself to a level akin to the person you are killing. With capital punishment their is no “punishment”, no time for that person to reflect on their crimes, to “serve” time, to be rehabilitated.

      Capital punishment is a relic of an older way of governing society which makes its existence in the US even more surreal seeing as it is the self-confessed vanguard of modern civilised democracy. Thus it was no surprise George Bush hailed the verdict as “a good day for the Iraqi people.” His tenure in Texas speaks volumes when it comes to issues such as the moral reasoning behind the death penalty.

      Although Saddam was dictator and guilty of many crimes against humanity, his execution - should it occur after the appeals, the drama, the technicalities of law - will be a pathetic reminder of human reasoning, i.e. a man kills a man so we must kill that man.

      So much for civilised times.

      We all know the history Bush’s tenure in Texas pertaining to the death penalty, so

    4. Anon — on 6th November, 2006 at 10:37 am  

      I strongly believe in the death penalty. When people commit acts so horrific they in my eyes are no longer human, so its just like putting down an animal.

    5. soru — on 6th November, 2006 at 10:58 am  

      Does capital punishment have a role in a civilised democratic world?

      No, but Iraq isn’t such a place, and it would be pretty silly to try to pretend that it is.

      If in twenty years time, the current constitutional settlement is still in place in Iraq, then there can be a debate on abolishing the death penalty. If it decides to do so, that would be pretty good going.

    6. Sid — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:16 am  

      hmm, then why keep up this pretence that Iraq is to be rebuilt as a liberal pluralist democracy and thereby instigate the domino-effect democratization of Arab states in the region?

      What does it say about this liberalising effect of invading Iraq if its cornerstone is the ritual hanging of Saddam Hussain?

      By all means hang the fucker but don’t trout out the “US/UK a liberalising force” cock-cheese please.

    7. Nindy — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:27 am  

      Anon -

      But we are human, flaws and all. It’s what seperates us from the animal world. These horrific acts are committed by human beings. People with thought and conscious actions. What we need to do is understand what drives people to commit barbaric acts. Things likr the socio-political climate of that country or perhaps, like Hitler for example, to try and piece together the history of that individual and contextualise it in how it shaped their ideology and subsequent actions.

      Murders, despots, all around evil people are human and we musn’t forget that. Killing them is like sweeping dirt under the carpet. It’s reckless and pathetic to rationalise it as “an eye for an eye,a tooth for a tooth.”

    8. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:30 am  

      i don’t think it’s the us/uk who want saddam hanged. it’s the relatives of the people he murdered. i won’t miss him, frankly. people who want to murder in his name will do it to free him if he’s in prison, or to avenge him if he’s dead. it’ll happen either way and will be a convenient pretext for whoever wants to employ him as a symbol, just like everything else to do with iraq. even if it was a big trial in the hague like milosevic’s, the same people would criticise it as “victors’ justice”, so frankly i think it would be a lot more sensible to spend the money on something else and have someone shoot him in the head, perhaps a victim’s mum. goodness knows they’ll be queuing round the block. perhaps someone who his sons raped and then fed into a plastic shredder. and then they can send his relatives a bill for the bullet, like they used to do when he was in charge.



    9. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:31 am  

      death never stops more death - haven’t we learnt anything? at least we could be honest about wanting the death penalty out of sheer revenge and nothing else.

      frankly i think the dealth penalty is barbaric, i’m not interested in that kind of revenge, if i were i’d be a murderer already. if other people want to satisfy their blood-thirsty instincts, they ought to at least be aware of that’s what they’re after.

    10. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:33 am  

      and for me personally, saddam dying isn’t going to turn back the clock and somehow ‘undo’ the events and terrors of 1990. other people might feel differently, and with respect to other atrocities his regime perpertrated, that’s their business to ruminate upon.

    11. Chairwoman — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:42 am  

      The death penalty brutalises every person who is concerned with its execution.

    12. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:46 am  

      i think b’brain is right and the people who want the death penalty will be a lot of people in iraq. but people always want ‘revenge’ don’t they.

      “putting down animals” - well it’s thinking like that - that characterizes murderers in the first place.

    13. Sid — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:47 am  

      By no means is it the “relatives of the people he murdered” alone driving this. Blogger Raed Jarrar has opined that Saddam’s hanging is what Republicans would like to see in the face of massive downturns in the President’s popularity figures in the run up to the mid-terms. And we know Bush’s record as the Hanging Governor of Texas don’t we. What a great force for good our liberal superiors, the US, are.

    14. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 11:54 am  

      yeah you’re right too SId - those fanatic nutters in the US - can you believe their record on executions? well we all know what the state of Texas is like for that.

    15. Anon — on 6th November, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      Nindy why do we need to understand what drives people to do it? thats a waste of time and resources. Better to send out a clear message that these actions are not acceptable in this world, no matter what drives them to do it.
      You think if a thief knew the punishment for stealing was the loss of their hand, they might reconsider their actions. If they knew the punishment was a slap on the wrist and a court case to boast about to their scum bucket friends they wouldnt give a hoot.

      Point im trying to make is extreme actions require extreme consequences. Why should saddam enjoy the luxury of life when hes destroyed so many himself.

    16. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 12:29 pm  

      quite, anon - but why’s it for you> to decide who should enjoy life and who shouldn’t.

    17. Bert Preast — on 6th November, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

      Sonia wrote: “death never stops more death - haven’t we learnt anything?”

      In the case of criminals perhaps. But leaders are an entirely different kettle of bastards. There are still those in Tikrit who would see Saddam back in power and are killing to make it so. While he’s in prison they can still hope for his release. When he’s dead they’re going to have to face facts at last.

      So death can in fact stop more death.

    18. Sid — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:18 pm  

      Most of those Takriti gun-touters are part of the secret police and private militia run by Saddam’s sons. Uday and Qusay are dead. But their militia are going strong. Most of those thugs are operating because they’re now “Iraqi nationalists” and freedom fighters and not Baathist thugs on the payroll of Saddam. Saddam’s hanging won’t change anything for them, I’m sure.

    19. Bert Preast — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:25 pm  

      It only has to prevent one death to be worth it.

    20. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:47 pm  

      and how would you know that the ‘one’ death had been prevented? :-)

    21. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

      18. sid - good point

      anyway pert - all you’re saying about mr. s could apply to mr. t and mr. b - why not advocate their death while you’re at it?

      oh and just in case one day you might be responsible for someone or other’s death - or - any one of us - how about we top ourselves now before that happens.

    22. Bert Preast — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

      Sonia - it’d be difficult to prove that anyone’s death had been prevented. But common sense says that as there exist people killing in his name many more than one death would be avoided.

      By Mr T and Mr B I assume you refer to Blair and Bush? Which of those has decided to invade one neighbour then annex another?

    23. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

      and do euan blair, or bush’s daughters run rape centres? this is fecking ridiculous, you may not like blair or bush, but for them to be even considered in the same breath as saddam they would have had to use mustard gas on the hurricane katrina looters and stop-the-war demonstrators. to equate them is to indulge in facile, asinine posturing of the worst sort and it does your argument a disservice.



    24. sonia — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:44 pm  

      hah banana, the people in iraq might see it differently :-) after all we are talking about this from the families of the victims/victim’s perspectives. nothing to do with my opinions thanks very much

    25. Sid — on 6th November, 2006 at 2:59 pm  

      I’m with Chairwoman, as ever.
      The rest of you necrophiliacs, happy wanking over SH’s hung corpse.

    26. bananabrain — on 6th November, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

      not the iraqis i know. for the record, i am against capital punishment except in exceptional cases. this, i think, is just such an exceptional case, like the nuremberg trials. those were “victors’ justice” too, probably and serve the bastards right. keeping him alive is just as much of a political gesture - except that would insults any notion of finishing the job as far as the locals are concerned.



    27. Nindy — on 6th November, 2006 at 5:04 pm  


      “Better to send out a clear message that these actions are not acceptable in this world, no matter what drives them to do it.”

      So Saddam’s hanging is going to have a tangible effect on other evil dictators?! I think you better go see a doctor with that hypothesis.

      People want to see him hanged for cheap kicks like some fucking circus show. Wow, look at Saddam on the gallows, isn’t that exciting.

      The idea that extreme actions require extreme consequences is pathetic and naive. Not pertaining to Saddam, I’m a firm believer that a great many people can be rehabilitated. There was recently a documentary on BBC2 following the inmates of a US prison who were putting on a rendition of Shakespeare’s Tempest. A lot of these men had committed crimes like murder and were serving life sentences, some of whom, had served a considerable amount of time already, and thus were soon up for consideration of parole. The greater majority were sorry for their crimes and were better men as a result of rehabilitation. They should be allowed a second chance at life so long as it is as clear as a crisp summer afternoon that they are fully reformed.

      No Saddam shouldn’t be released into society and should die in prison, but he shouldn’t be killed out of an obsolete way of thinking that a man who kills should be killed himself. the death penalty lowers us to their level.

    28. Anon — on 6th November, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

      “So Saddam’s hanging is going to have a tangible effect on other evil dictators?! I think you better go see a doctor with that hypothesis.”

      I think youd better read the question posed in the article before you hurt yourself with that display of sarcasm.

      Thinking the majority of offenders can be rehabilitated I find pathetic and naive.

      Lets flip the coin, what about the people “rehabilitated” that reoffend.
      Is risking innocent peoples lives worth giving someone a second chance?
      Did they give the people they killed a second chance?
      These people can leave prison clear as a crisp summer afternoon as you so beautifully put it, but what about the victims friends and family whos lives were torn to pieces. Its like a slap in their faces that these people can now go enjoy their lives while they still suffer.

    29. Don — on 6th November, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

      Executing Saddam might well provide a sense of ‘closure’ for many of those who suffered under him (if we can disregard the current suffering brought about by his botched removal) but is it justifiable to kill someone because we find it therapeutic?

      It’s deterrent effect is likely to be minimal, but even if it weren’t, is it justifiable to kill someone because of a conjectured positive effect on a third party?

      It will be a hell of a lot cheaper than banging him up (where?) for the next twenty years or so, but is it justifiable to kill someone because it will save us a few quid?

      So why? I suspect it has something to do with Iraq’s ‘narrative’, the formation of a nation. In other words, he will be hanged to help develop a national myth.

      And also, as Nindy and Sid point out, because around election time George W (and Clinton before him) reach for the rope.

      I won’t be holding any candlelight vigils for the evil bastard though. Nobody is going to come out of this well.

    30. Sajn — on 6th November, 2006 at 7:41 pm  

      I don’t think that it would be good for Iraq or the ME for Saddam to be hanged as result of this court case. He should be tried in a more impartial and just environment without the political interference that has been a constant in this court case.

      Does the view that it is the relatives of his victims who get to drive the case for a death sentence also apply to the relatives of victims of other atrocities (Sabra, Chatila, Darfur, Rwanda etc) also apply?

    31. William — on 6th November, 2006 at 8:05 pm  

      I am against the death penalty.

      Funny how for a long time with all the chaos in Iraq Saddam became forgotten. Even so his trial has become politicised and for some he may even become a martyr. I wonder if would be more appropriate to just bung him in a secure psychiatric unit where he should have been put long ago. Could he be seen as a martyr or a political tool then??? Perhaps not, if he was appropriately redescribed and de-validised he wouldn’t serve his political purpose.

    32. Anas — on 6th November, 2006 at 8:50 pm  

      I’m waiting for the outcome of this

    33. Leon — on 7th November, 2006 at 10:48 am  

      An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth will leave us all blind and with really bad smiles.

      I’m against the death penality on point of principal, pragamatically I’m more opposed in this case because it’s an absurdly stupid thing to do. It will fuel the fire and create more divisions. It would have been far better if he was imprisoned for life as a living monument to what will happen to all heads of state if they act as he did.

      Not only should he and his ‘adminstration’ be tried but also those who funded and supported him.

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