Saddam Should Be Tried "in Appropriate Jurisdiction," Says Vatican

Cardinal Martino Warns That Capture Won't Solve All Problems of Terrorism

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says that "it is desirable that Saddam Hussein's trial be heard in the appropriate jurisdiction."



Cardinal Renato Martino made this statement today in the Vatican press office when presenting John Paul II's message for World Day of Peace 2004.

The cardinal did not specify the type of jurisdiction to which he was referring, explaining that "the Holy See is an observer, and cannot say 'try him in this or that court.'"

Regarding rumors that Saddam might be executed, Cardinal Martino reiterated that "the Holy Father has pronounced himself several times against the death penalty."

The cardinal pointed out that "the European Union has abolished the death penalty, and the international courts on Rwanda and former Yugoslavia do not provide for it either."

He noted that during his 16 years as the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations he voiced his opposition to capital punishment on a number of occasions.

The newly appointed cardinal, an expert in international relations, said that Saddam's capture and trial must "contribute to the pacification and democratization of Iraq."

It is "illusory," the Vatican official added, to think that the capture and trial "will liberate from the defeat that war always implies for humanity."

"Seeing Saddam Hussein, I felt compassion," said Cardinal Martino. He said he hopes that "some questions have been clarified, although we are not faced with the complete solution to the problems" posed by terrorism.

In this connection, the cardinal suggested the reading of Section 8 of the papal message for World Day of Peace. The section is dedicated to terrorism.

"A thousand terrorists can be eliminated, but if the causes of terrorism are not eliminated, it will always be with us," the Italian cardinal warned.

Cardinal Martino concluded with the same idea expressed at the end of the Pope's text, stressing the need to overcome "the simple logic of justice and to open oneself to love and forgiveness."

He added: "It is difficult to accept, but it is our Christian message."