Blair and Brown condemn Saddam execution

Gordon Brown has described as “deplorable” the way the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was carried out.

Leaked footage of the hanging on December 30th has been circulating the internet. Taken on a mobile phone, it shows Saddam being heckled by unknown bystanders who were heard shouting the name of prominent Shia militant Moqtada al-Sadr.

In an interview with the BBC, the chancellor became the highest government minister to speak out against the execution, saying it was a “deplorable set of events”.

Later on Sunday a Downing Street spokesperson, pre-empting comments Mr Blair is expected to make in the coming week, said the prime minister thought the execution had been “completely wrong”.

The comments follow a warning delivered yesterday by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki that his government could review the relations of any countries that criticised the execution of Saddam, which he viewed as a domestic affair.

“Now that we know the full picture of what happened, we can sum this up as a deplorable set of events,” said Mr Brown.

“It is something, of course, which the Iraqi government has now expressed its anxiety and shame at. It has done nothing to lessen tensions between the Shia and Sunni communities.”

Mr Brown, who does not support capital punishment, said he found the events surrounding Saddam’s hanging “unacceptable”.

The international community is also placing further pressure on Iraq over the pending execution of two of Saddam Hussein’s aides.

Saddam’s half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikrit, and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, who were sentenced over the death of 148 Shia Muslims in 1982, were due to be executed on Thursday. Their deaths were postponed and could come as early as today.