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FM: Iraqi Affairs Should Be Decided by Iraqi People
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Saturday that the Iraqi affairs should be decided by the Iraqi people.

Qin made these remarks when responding to the execution of Saddam Hussein. He highlighted China's hopes that Iraq can realize stability and development at an early date.

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was hanged shortly before 6 AM (03:00 GMT) on Saturday, US-backed Iraqi TV Al Hurra reported.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry official Mariam al-Rayis, who attended the execution, told state television that Saddam  was hanged alone. His two co-accused -- his half brother and intelligence chief Barzan Hassan al-Tikriti and revolutionary court judge Awad Ahmed al-Bandar would be hanged at a later date, to allow Saddam's execution to have sole significance.

"It was between 5:30 AM (02:30 GMT) and 6:30 AM (03:30 GMT)" and "the whole thing was filmed," said the official. "Saddam was hanged first, then Barzan, then Bandar."

Meanwhile, Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi also told the BBC on Saturday that Saddam Hussein has been executed.

"He has been executed. It has been officially announced that he has been executed," Abbawi said in a phone interview with BBC News 24.

Iraqi official television station Al-Iraqiya announced that "criminal Saddam was hanged to death."

Arabic satellite channel Arabiya also reported the execution had taken place.

The execution took place after Saddam, born on April 28, 1937 and who found himself deposed by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, was given over to the Iraqi authorities from a US camp near Baghdad international airport where he had been held.

On Nov. 5, a panel of five Iraqi judges sentenced Saddam, his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Iraq's former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar to death by hanging for killing of 148 people in Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad.

On Dec. 3, the defense lawyers of Saddam officially appealed to the higher court against the death penalty imposed on Saddam and another two codefendants.

However, the Iraqi appellate court chief announced on Tuesday that the court had upheld the death sentence for Saddam Hussein and rejected his legal team's appeal.

(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2006)

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