British premier’s likely successor calls Saddam’s hanging ‘deplorable’


LONDON (AP) – The likely successor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned Saddam Hussein’s execution as “deplorable” on Saturday.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown said he opposed the death penalty and hoped lessons would be learned from the mistakes made in Saddam’s hanging, as well as from other difficulties encountered in Iraq.

“Now that we know the full picture of what happened, we can sum this up as a deplorable set of events,” Brown said in an interview taped Saturday to be aired by the British Broadcasting Corp. on Sunday.

Brown’s denunciation contrasted with Blair’s silence on the issue. Blair, the chief U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, faces increasing pressure to share his views on the execution and has said he would speak about it in the coming week.

The former Iraqi dictator was taunted by onlookers as he was hanged Saturday, and an illicitly recorded video of his death was later leaked and distributed on the Internet.

Brown, who is expected to succeed Blair when the prime minister steps down this year, said the execution “has done nothing to lessen tensions between the Shiite and Sunni communities.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott also described the circumstances surrounding Saddam’s execution as “deplorable.”

Blair’s office said the prime minister did not necessarily support Prescott’s view. However, Blair has endorsed an investigation into the manner of the execution.

AP-ES-01-06-07 1856EST