The individual thought to have taped Saddam Hussein’s hanging has been arrested in Iraq. The footage, taken on a cellphone (at least one other video was made, according to an Iraqi prosecutor), has been leaked onto the Internet and was aired on Al-Jazzeera amongst other stations.
The video differs from the official video of Hussein’s death in that it includes audio and it’s clear that the former Iraqi president is being insulted by officials present at his hanging.
The government is upset at the video leak and at the uproar it has created in the Sunni population. However, the fault is not with the official who taped the execution. If Iraq is to operate as a democracy with rule of law and fair trials, as President Bush put it last week, then it cannot act like it did with Saddam Hussein. Not only was the sentencing of Hussein questionable, but its execution has now been shown to be motivated by personal feeelings.
The personal concerns of those present at the hanging should not have been voiced; as officials of the Iraqi government, it was not their place to make insulting remarks.
It is very sad to see the official who taped the assassination and leaked it arrested as the individual simply made the truth transparent and available. The leaked video contradicted official reports of Hussein’s execution.
But it seems that the new democratic Iraq does not value a free media. After all, the government had already closed down two privately owned television stations in November, with another station just closed following Hussein’s hanging.