KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait's information minister slammed Saddam Hussein for defending Iraq's 1990 invasion of the neighboring Gulf country during his Thursday court appearance in Baghdad and said the former Iraqi leader should be executed.
"The criminal still believes he is the president of Iraq," Mohammed Abul-Hassan (search) told The Associated Press in Kuwait after watching the televised images of Saddam appearing in an Iraqi court. "Just imagine if he was still ruling Iraq."
Saddam is facing seven broad charges, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait (search), which was occupied by Iraqi forces for seven months until being liberated by a U.S.-led coalition in the 1991 Gulf War (search). About 400 people, mostly Kuwaitis, were killed during the occupation and 600 people remain missing.
In his first public appearance since he was captured by U.S. forces in December, Saddam defended the invasion of Kuwait as being "for the Iraqi people."
Saddam also referred to the Kuwaitis as "dogs," a comment that led to an admonishment from the judge for using that language in a court of law. Dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims.
Abul-Hassan, the Kuwaiti official, reacted angrily to Saddam's comments about Kuwait, adding that his punishment should "certainly be execution."
On Saddam's remarks about invading Kuwait, the minister said: "He wants to prove to Iraqis that he is still defending an important issue. He showed the deep hatred he still has, but the judge was firm and he stopped him."
The minister said bad language was "expected" of Saddam. "This is how he was raised."
At the official Kuwait News Agency, editors gathered to watch the images of Saddam in court.
"This is important for us as Kuwaitis, and it is especially important for his supporters in the Arab world because they will get to know the crimes he committed," editor Tarek Bou Haimad said.
He added, however, that nothing would ease the pain caused by Saddam's invasion of Kuwait except by "seeing him hanging from the gallows, preferably after a fair trial."
Abdul-Wahab al-Omar, a 26-year-old civil servant, was shopping while news broke of Saddam's court appearance and was not interested in watching the former Iraqi leader learn of the charges against him.
"To us, what happened has happened and the [Kuwaiti] war prisoners are dead," he said. "A trial will not avenge them even if he is executed."
Al-Omar gave his own view on what kind of justice Saddam should face for the crimes he is charged with.
"He should be dangled alive in Safat Square [Kuwait City] and Kuwaitis should be able to go spit in his face," he said.