German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said on Tuesday Saddam should receive a fair trial to "put the truth on the table" and speed up reconciliation in Iraq.

"I think it's very important that the trial is fair," Fischer told reporters in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak.

"In several other regions and points of history, it was very important for the process of reconciliation that there was a fair and public trial," Fischer said.

"It's to put the truth on the table. This is very important for the Iraqi people," he added.

Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz said that Saddam should be tried by Iraqis without foreign involvement.

"Other countries should not interfere. We should leave it to an Iraqi court," Haz was quoted by the state Antara news agency.

"In several other regions and points of history, it was very important for the process of reconciliation that there was a fair and public trial"

Joschka Fischer,
German Foreign Minister

Former United Nations war crimes prosecutor Richard  Goldstone, a South African, said Saddam should be tried in Iraq by a mixture of local and international judges and prosecutors. 

Goldstone, who was the chief prosecutor of the UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, said there were "very few if any" Iraqi prosecutors who had the experience to mount a credible prosecution against the former Iraqi president. 

"There has been no credible Iraqi criminal justice system for some decades," the 65-year-old South African judge said in an editorial in the Johannesburg-based Star newspaper. 

"The independence of the judges would be highly questionable as well," he said.

Sweden's offer

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson said his government was ready to let Saddam Hussein serve a prison sentence in his country if asked to do so.

Former Serbian President Biljana Plavsic is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in Sweden after being convicted as a war criminal. 

"If he were to be convicted and sentenced to prison by an international court, then we have the same obligation as everyone else...You cannot first demand an international trial
and then say you are not willing to take responsibility for it," Persson told the Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

A French lawyer says Saddam should
be allowed to receive visitors

A French lawyer known for his notorious clients said on Monday he would be ready to defend Saddam and that the former Iraqi leader must be presumed innocent at any trial. 

Jacques Verges, who has represented Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and international guerrilla Carlos the Jackal, said hiding Saddam away was against international conventions. US troops captured the deposed leader on Saturday, but his whereabouts remain a mystery. 

"If he had to be prosecuted tomorrow, he would have to be presumed innocent," Verges told French radio station Europe 1, adding that Saddam should be allowed to receive visitors if he is held as a prisoner of war.

'Show of power'

A lawyer from western Turkey has applied to the Iraqi embassy in Ankara to be allowed to defend Saddam Hussein when he goes to trial, the Anatolia news agency reported. 

In his petition, Atinc Gultekin, from the Aegean port city of Izmir, accused the US of aiming to turn Saddam's trial into a "show of power". 

"The leading actor, Saddam Hussein, should be turned over to Iraqi courts immediately and be tried in Iraq," said Gultekin. 

Just trial assured

The spokesman for Iraq's interim governing council said on Tuesday Saddam would get a "just and fair" trial that would become a symbol of a new, democratic Iraq, 

"Politicians in Iraq and the Iraqi people want to see this trial as an unprecedented thing in the Middle East, as a new face for a new Iraq, a new democratic Iraq where leaders will be accountable"

Intifadh Qanbar,
Spokesman for Iraq
Governing Councuil

"I think the trial will be just and fair because all parties are interested in making it fair," Intifadh Qanbar told BBC television.

"Politicians in Iraq and the Iraqi people want to see this trial as an unprecedented thing in the Middle East, as a new face for a new Iraq, a new democratic Iraq where leaders will be accountable," he said. 

One of the Iraqi tribunal's architects said on Tuesday the new Iraqi war crimes court would not be ready to try Saddam Hussein for months, and could let judges from other countries take part in the trial.

Dara Nur al-Din, an Iraqi judge and member of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council who helped draft the court's charter, said the court would not be ready to try anyone for
months, and that any decision to execute Saddam would be in the hands of a transitional government set to be formed next year.