'Manner of Saddam death was wrong'

Blair's comments follow Brown's remarks, who said taunting was "deplorable."

Blair 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Blair 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Tony Blair's office said Sunday the prime minister believed the manner in which former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was executed was "completely wrong," adding to criticism aired by senior ministers and Blair's likely successor Gordon Brown. Blair planned to speak publicly about the hanging later this week, but believed that process had been poorly handled, his office said. Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who is expected to succeed Blair as prime minister this year, said on Saturday that the taunting of Saddam during his execution and the release of illicitly recorded video was "deplorable" and "completely unacceptable." Iraqi Prime Minster Nour al-Maliki has ordered an inquiry into the emergence of the unofficial video, on which Saddam is heard exchanging insults with his executioners. "The Prime Minister has said he completely supports the inquiry and he believes that the manner of the execution was completely wrong, but that should not lead us to forget the crimes that Saddam Hussein committed, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis," a spokeswoman for Blair's Downing Street office said Sunday, on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy. Blair has faced increasing pressure to share his views on the execution after his deputy John Prescott and Brown both criticized the hanging. He declined to answer questions on the matter after returning from a holiday in Florida on Thursday, saying he wanted to focus on health issues and talks on the future of Northern Ireland. "Now that we know the full picture of what happened, we can sum this up as a deplorable set of events," Brown said in an interview taped Saturday for the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Sunday AM program. "It is something, of course, which the Iraqi Government has now expressed its anxiety and shame at." Prescott last Tuesday also used the word "deplorable" to describe the circumstances surrounding the execution. Blair's office said the prime minister did not necessarily support Prescott's view.