LAO GOVERNMENT SLAMS SADDAM HUSSEIN�S ARREST


2003-12-30
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##### CORRECTION (February 5, 2004) #####

On Dec. 30, RFA erroneously reported on its Web site that the Lao media had failed to report the Dec. 13 capture by U.S. forces of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. In fact, the Lao newspaper Pasason did report Saddam's capture in its Dec. 16, 2003 edition. RFA also misreported the number of anti-U.S. protesters in Vientiane and elsewhere at around the same time: Hundreds of people gathered at the National Stadium in Vientiane and in other Lao cities to protest the U.S-led war in Iraq.

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Listen to this story in Lao.

BANGKOK�A spokesman with the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs told RFA Tuesday that the case against Saddam Hussein is unjustified.

�All accusations against Saddam Hussein are lacking in evidence, such as the possession of weapons of mass destruction. His crimes haven�t been proven�so how is he going to be tried [in court]?� deputy spokesman for the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sodom Phetrasy told RFA�s Lao service. He also insisted that Hussein be tried by an international tribunal, which would ensure a fair trial.

�The governance of each country is different from one to the next and cannot be the same in all countries. Even the religions are different,� he said.

So far there have been no reports that the Lao media have informed the public of Hussein�s capture. The country of Laos, which does not typically tolerate mass demonstrations, mobilized thousands of people to the streets of Vientiane and other major provincial cities to protest the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Hussein was captured Dec. 13 by some 600 American soldiers, ending a massive eight-month manhunt and raising hope that a deadly Iraqi insurgency against occupying U.S.-led forces might be nearing an end.

Hussein could eventually face a war crimes trial in Iraq under a new Iraqi tribunal. For now, Washington has made clear that he faces intensive interrogation-above all to find out what he knows about an ongoing insurgency against the U.S.-led occupation and about any weapons of mass destruction his regime developed or possessed. #####

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