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Iraqi Foreign Minister: Saddam Trial to Boost Security Situation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2005 – Saddam Hussein's upcoming trial is expected to help bolster the security situation in Iraq, and the sooner the proceedings begin, the better, Iraq's foreign minister said today on CNN's "Late Edition."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoyshar Zebari said the evidence against the former dictator is staggering - from mass graves of those who opposed him to the laundry list of atrocities he inflicted against his own people.

"Every family has suffered from the rule of Saddam Hussein, so there is no lack of evidence whatsoever," Zebari said. "There is an abundance of evidence to try and prosecute him."

Iraqi officials are confident the prosecution will be ready to present its case within the next two months, he said.

"This government is very committed to putting Saddam and other members of his former regime on trial, and I personally think that this will impact the security situation," the foreign minister said.

"It is very important that we start - the sooner the better," he said. "That is the view of this government. It is a widely shared view across the country.

"He will be eligible for all the benefits of a free trial" and to choose his own defense team, Zebari said. "We will give him the same justice he has denied us for many years," he said.

The final verdict, he said, "will speak for Iraqi justice."

As trial preparations continue, Zebari said progress is continuing on both the security and political fronts.

He called Operation Lightning an important step toward improving security in Baghdad, and said Iraq's security forces "have taken the offensive" and are "taking the fight to the insurgents and to the terrorists."

The recent spate of violence in Iraq - particularly attacks that target ordinary Iraqi citizens - represent "an act of desperation" in a campaign that's failing in its attempt "to undermine this government and show that it is weak," Zebari said.

"They are losing," he said of the insurgents.

Various intelligence sources appear to confirm that one of the terrorists' key leaders, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was injured in a recent clash with coalition troops, Zebari said. However, the extent of his injuries remains unknown.

Zarqawi's arrest or death "would demoralize" his loyalists, Zebari said, but he said he has no illusions that it would bring an immediate end to terrorism in Iraq. "A certain level of violence" would continue, he said.

One of the key ways to weaken the insurgency and build support for the new government is to continue political progress, he said. He cited writing of the constitution as a key milestone in this effort.

Meanwhile, he said, the international community is demonstrating "a positive change in attitude" toward Iraq and an increased willingness to help it build its new government, increase security and strengthen the rule of law.

To help build on this momentum, Iraq has called a June 22 conference in Brussels. Zebari said Iraq hopes to "re-engage" the international community and encourage other nations "to do more."

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