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Bush: Saddam Should Face 'Ultimate Penalty' - 2003-12-17


President Bush says he believes Saddam Hussein should face the "ultimate penalty" for crimes against the Iraqi people. Mr. Bush says that is only his opinion, and the decision will rest with Iraq's new leaders.

In an interview with the ABC television network, President Bush says Saddam's capture was a joyous moment for the Iraqi people who he says are capable of trying their former leader themselves.

Mr. Bush said,"I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty for what he has done to his people. He is a torturer, a murderer, and they had rape rooms, and this is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice. But that will be decided not by the President of the United States, but by the citizens of Iraq in one form or another."

Saddam could face the death penalty if tried in Iraq, unlike a United Nations tribunal where the harshest punishment would be a life sentence.

In his first interview since the capture of the former Iraqi leader, President Bush said the world is better off now that Saddam's chapter in Iraqi history is over.

But he says there is a lot more to be done in Iraq, and the United States should continue to play a leading role in fighting terrorism, which he called the ultimate challenge of the 21st century.

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