RIGA - In a radio address delivered Dec. 19, President Vaira Vike-Frieberga criticized the public medical examination of ex-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by U.S. forces."I believe that it is not right to show via the media such a thing as a medical examination. The state of health and the physical shape of a human being belongs to that person's individual human rights and to attack it publicly, to my mind, is not correct," Vike-Freiberga said in the radio interview.
The Iraqi leader was shown on television around the world during an initial medical examination where his beard, hair, and mouth were inspected. Later the U.S. military released pictures of Saddam appearing as a fugitive with a beard and after he had been shaved.
Another issue where the Latvian president disagrees with coalition forces is the venue for the coming trial of Saddam. While the United States has expressed interest in seeing the former Iraqi leader in his own country, Vike-Freiberga favors a trial at The Hague, where the former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, is currently being tried for crimes against humanity.
"From a professional and juridical point of view, frankly speaking, I believe The Hague court would be a more appropriate place to try him," she added.
Despite condemnation from some Western European allies, Latvia, along with several other East European countries, supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. French President Jacque Chirac famously said it would have been better if the Eastern countries had "shut up" rather than support the war.
Latvia set to join both NATO and the EU later this year currently has over 100 soldiers serving in the Polish controlled section of Iraq.