Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In his hour of need

Perhaps Saddam Hussein would have had a better chance of avoiding a date with the hangman for his crimes in 1982 if he had called some character witnesses. I don't just mean Gorgeous George who could testify to Saddam's 'indefatigable strength and courage' either. John Pilger suggests a few of Hussein's mates who may still be able to help in the event of an appeal:
When I was in Iraq in 1999, I met an assistant hotel manager whose sardonic sense of western double standards was a treat.

"Ah, a journalist from Britain!" he said. "Would you like to see where Mr Douglas Hurd stayed, and Mr David Melon - (he meant Mellor) - and Mr Tony Newton, and all the other members of Mrs Thatcher's government... These gentleman were our friends, our benefactors."

This man has a collection of the Iraqi English-language newspaper, the Baghdad Observer, from the "good old days". Saddam Hussein is on the front page, where he always is. The only change in each photograph is that he is sitting on his white presidential couch with a different British government minister, who is smiling a smile uncannily similar to that of his murderous host.

There, in yellowing print, is Douglas Hurd twice - on the couch and on page two, bowing before the tyrant. And there is the corpulent David Mellor, also a Foreign Minister, on the same white couch in 1988. While Mellor, or "Mr Melon" as the assistant manager preferred, was being entertained by Saddam Hussein, his host ordered the gassing of 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja. News of this atrocity the Foreign Office tried to suppress and the US State Department tried to blame on Iran. "Please give Mr Melon my greetings," said the assistant manager.
Come on, Mr Melon. No 6-0-6 to fill your time these days, surely you could help out an old mate in his time of need.

Talk of Mellor inspires me to re-post this link.