BAGHDAD - The Iraqi man who was filmed attacking Saddam Hussein's statue with a sledgehammer when US troops stormed into Baghdad in 2003 said Iraq was in a better shape under his rule and George W. Bush and Tony Blair should be put on trial "for ruining" it.
Kadhim Hassan al-Jabouri was speaking on Wednesday as British former civil servant John Chilcot released a long-awaited report criticising Britain's role in the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The report said that "policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments", and that claims that Iraq posed a threat by possessing weapons of mass destruction were "presented with unjustified certainty".
It said that the turmoil unleashed in Iraq since the invasion should have come as no surprise.
"I regret striking the statue," said Jabouri, a Shi'ite who lost more than a dozen relatives under Saddam, a member of the Sunni Muslim minority. He said they were killed for opposing the Iraqi leader, who was hanged in 2006.
The 12-metre statue of Saddam was pulled down by US Marines shortly after Jabouri and other Iraqis attacked it on April 9, 2003. Images of it being ripped from its plinth were broadcast live around the world and came to symbolize the overthrow of Saddam's ruthless quarter-century in power.
"I wish Saddam would return; he executed many of my family but he is still better than these politicians and clerics who got Iraq to the way it is," he said, referring to the Shi'ite religious political parties that took over after the invasion.
Jabouri, 58, owned a motorcycle repair shop in the Karrada district of central Baghdad at the time of the invasion.