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Sanchez Says Saddam Receiving Geneva Conventions Protections

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2003 – Coalition forces are ensuring that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's Geneva Conventions rights are protected while he is in custody and that he receives "all of the privileges of a prisoner of war," according to the commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez said today on the CBS "Early Show" that Saddam "has been talkative" since his capture near Tikrit Dec. 13, and that "he'll respond readily to questions that are asked of him in terms of just normal administrative requirements."

But Sanchez stopped short of saying Saddam is cooperating with coalition forces. "I wouldn't characterize it either way, cooperative or uncooperative," he said. "We still have a long way to go in this process. And at this point, we still have to ensure that we're taking care of him. He's being treated according to the Geneva Conventions. We'll be protecting him."

Sanchez described Saddam as "a man who looks resigned to be a prisoner, and at times looks a little dazed and confused."

He characterized a meeting between several members of the Iraqi Governing Council and Saddam following his capture as "a very emotional experience for the Iraqis that walked into that room and came face-to-face with him." Sanchez said Saddam "interchanged with them readily" during the session.

"It was very clear that there was a lot of pent-up emotion," Sanchez said. "You could see in the eyes of the Iraqis that there was some anger and some pent-up emotion that had to be released."

Sanchez called these emotions "exactly the expected responses from people that have been oppressed for a long, long time" but said that now it's time to start looking toward the future.

"It's time for Iraq to move on a path to reconciliation, to get the country back on the right track toward a prosperous, democratic country," he said.

Sanchez credited the U.S. forces whose hard work and dedication led to Saddam's capture. "It was wonderful work done by America's sons and daughters," he said.

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