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Radio Free Iraq Gets Exclusive Interview With Jalal Talabani

(Washington, DC–July 12, 2004) Former Iraqi Governing Council member and head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani discussed the upcoming trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL. During the interview, recorded in Prague on July 3 by RFE/RL Iraq Service correspondent Ferial AlSheibani, Talabani also addressed the attitude of Iraq’s Kurdish population towards the new Iraqi Interim Government, the Israeli presence in Kurdistan, and the integration of the two Kurdish administrations in northern Iraq. The interview was broadcast by Radio Free Iraq on July 5.

In response to a question about Talabani’s reported criticism of the potential use of the death penalty if Hussein is convicted during his upcoming trial, Talabani told AlSheibani that “I think that Saddam is a great war criminal. The crimes that Saddam has committed surpass even the crimes of Hitler and Mussolini. Some of the crimes that Saddam has committed are unique in the history… It was the first time that a ruler has used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, against the people he rules. Also, it was the first time that a ruler has buried hundreds of thousands of his own people in mass graves… Saddam has committed the worst crimes for which he deserves the strongest, the ultimate and the hardest sanction. But as a lawyer and signatory to an international appeal to stop the capital punishment worldwide, I cannot stand in contradiction with myself [concerning my rejection of the death penalty]. I think that it is up to the Iraqi tribunal to issue the sentence over Saddam.”

This exclusive Radio Free Iraq interview with Jalal Talabani may be heard (in Arabic) on the service’s website, at A complete English-language will appear in the July 9 issue of “RFE/RL Iraq Report,” which can be found at

RFE/RL’s Iraq Service broadcasts seventeen hours of programming a day to Iraq, produced in Prague and the service’s Baghdad Bureau and transmitted to listeners via shortwave, satellite and AM and FM broadcasts from transmitters set up by the International Broadcasting Bureau in Baghdad, Sulaymaniya and Erbil. Iraq Service programming is also available via the Internet, at and at the service’s website