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Iraqis in Australia hail Saddam execution

For Iraqis in Australia, it marked the end of a tyrant who denied justice to countless thousands of his own people.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2006 12:12 IST

The execution of Saddam Hussein was a significant moment in Iraq's history and marked the end of a tyrant who denied justice to countless thousands of his own people, Australia said on Saturday.

Saddam was hung at dawn in Iraq on Saturday, a month after an Iraqi court sentenced him to death for crimes against humanity.

His death prompted celebrations from a small group of Iraqi expatriates in Australia, with about 30 people taking to the streets in Sydney's west to cheer, dance and wave Iraqi flags.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said while Australia opposed the death penalty, Saddam had faced justice and a fair trial and had been found guilty of crimes against humanity.

"The people of Iraq now know that their brutal dictator will never come back to lead them," Downer said in a statement.

"While many will continue to grieve over their personal loss under his rule, his death marks an important step in consigning his tyrannical regime to the judgment of history and pursuing a process of reconciliation now and in the future."

Australia, a close ally of the United States, was one of the first nations to commit troops to the war in Iraq and maintains about 1,400 troops in and around Iraq to provide security and help train Iraq's new defence forces.

Downer said it was a credit to the Iraqi people that Saddam was given a fair trial for orchestrating the execution of 148 men and boys in the village Dujail nearly 25 years ago.

But analyst Andrew Vincent, director of Middle Eastern studies at Australia's Macquarie University, said the execution was expected, describing the trial as flawed.

"I think it was a deeply flawed trial, and it was known from the very outset that death would eventuate," Vincent told Australia's Sky television.

"Once the death penalty had been passed, it was very much in the interests of the Iraqi government to carry it out as quickly as possible."

Sydney man Issam Abdulla, who fled Iraq to settle in Australia in 1980, told Australian Associated Press the former dictator's execution had come too late.

"It's not making me happy but it's making me feel sorry why all this has happened. The damage is done," he said.

"Saddam Hussein does lots of bad things to the Iraqi nation and targeted everybody whether they were Muslims, Christians, whatever," he said.

First Published: Dec 30, 2006 12:12 IST