"This is the tradition of the Iraqis - when they do something, they dance around the body and they express their feelings," al-Rubaie said.

 
'No humiliation'
 

"Basically they were doing their congregational prayers and  supplications, and they mentioned at the end of their supplication the name of Muqtada," he said.

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"And [Saddam] replied to them. I can't see where is the  humiliation, to be quite honest. Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada is not a  dirty word, not an obscene word, they were not cursing."  

 

Arrests

Sami al-Askari, a Shia politician who was present at the execution of the former president, said: "Two guards who are employees of the justice ministry have been held for questioning, but there are no charges against them yet."

The grisly video captures a member of the execution party mocking Saddam by shouting the name of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a bitter opponent of the ousted leader, minutes before he was put to death.

The US army said it would have handled the execution differently.

 
The White House also said it raised concerns with Iraq over the timing and procedures for the execution before he was hanged, but insisted the former leader got justice.
 

Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said: "There seems to be a lot of concern about the last two minutes of Saddam Hussein's life and less about the first 69 [years], in which he murdered hundreds of thousands of people. That's why he was executed."

 

US concerns

 

The video showed Saddam being mocked by Shia guards as the noose was placed around his neck.

 

The video shocked Iraqis and sparked worldwide condemnation.

 

The video spread rapidly across the globe

Sean McCormack, the state department spokesman, said officials from the US embassy discussed several issues with Baghdad.

 

"We were talking about the timing," McCormack said.

 

"We raised issues with respect to procedures and timing. But ultimately these were decisions for the Iraqis to make... At the end of the day, justice was served."

 

Also on Wednesday, US Major-General William Caldwell said US forces left all security measures at Saddam's hanging, including access to the execution chamber, to Iraqis.

 

"Had we been physically in charge at that point, we would have done things differently," he said, adding that US forces handed over at a holding cell nearby and then withdrew from the site where the hanging took place.

 

Caldwell urged the Iraqi government to reach out to disillusioned Sunni Arabs, who have warned that the execution and video are a blow to the Shia-led government's efforts to end the sectarian conflict.