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Bodies on Display

Aired July 25, 2003 - 09:02   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Iraqis not the only ones reacting cautiously to the word of the deaths of Saddam's sons. The Arab community said to be, in parts anyway, nervously awaiting the latest developments. With reaction now from the neighbors in that part of the world, from Beirut, Tanya Mahannes (ph), a war correspondent for a Lebanese broadcast and from Cairo, and From Cairo Egypt, Hisham Kessem, a publisher of the Cairo times with us here as well to take us through this. A bit of caution to our viewers. I'm having a bit of a problem wit the satellite from Beirut. It's up and it's down again, and we've been going back and forth for a couple of hours on this, so bear with us in case we lose that signal.
Let's try Tanya first in Beirut, then. What are you hearing based on the reaction of the Lebanese people on these pictures?

TANYA MANHANNES (ph): Well, what happened to Uday and Qusay. I mean...

HEMMER: All right. Just like we anticipated. Our apologies to our viewers. Tanya, hang on a second there if you can still hear me. The satellite's giving us major problems today.

Hisham, tell us, same question to you in Cairo. What are you hearing from Egyptians?

HISHAM KESSEM, PUBLISHER, "CAIRO TIMES": Well, on my way to the office, I did a random poll, and three out of four people were totally against publishing or broadcasting the pictures. Mainly they believed it was -- this was sacreligious. However, the press of the seven morning dailies, four of them had the front page pictures of them. I don't know if you can see this. The reporting is fairly sober, just wire style, without much editorializing.

HEMMER: What's the reaction from those back in Iraq, basically, who need more proof, and that's the reason why the U.S. government put out those photos? Does that logic fly with the people you've spoken with?

KESSEM: Some of them. Some of them are in disbelief. I don't they they'll believe under any circumstances. They are skeptic about anything coming out of the American administration.

HEMMER: I want to try Tanya again in Beirut. What are you hearing from the Lebanese? All right, we're having a major problem with this, and I apologize to our viewers. We tried to get it working here. Hisham, why don't you help wrap it up for us, then. There are those in Iraq, who we have heard from anyway, who believe had the sons been taken alive, you can conduct a trial, it would be a very public issue for the Iraqi people. Has that been the scene in Cairo.

KESSEM: Yes, more or less. A lot of people, again, think this is an extrajudicial killing.

HEMMER: All right, listen, Hisham Kessem, thanks in Cairo. And Tanya Manhannes (ph), our apologies.

Getting word that videotape of the two sons are being fed. As soon as we receive our copy, for lack of a better phrase right now, we'll pass it along to you. In the meantime, put satellite issues aside and get to Baghdad right now. Here's Harris Whitbeck.

Harris, what's happening there now?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, the journalist who came out of the improvised morgue at airport say that the bodies do in fact, look like Saddam Hussein's two elder sons. They say they look like they had been touched up, and a U.S. military spokesman said that military morticians had in fact performed some reconstructive work on the faces of Uday and Qusay to make them look at much as possible like, as they looked like before the U.S. attack that led to their deaths in Mosul a couple days ago.

They said that they had shaved off their beards, they had left their characteristic mustaches intact, again, trying to make them look at much as possible like these men used to look like so that the Iraqi people could start believing this is in fact true. Again, people on the streets here saying that unless they are able to see full-body pictures and more detail, they are not -- many people are still not prepared to believe that these men are in fact dead -- Bill.

HEMMER: Harris, also we heard earlier about the rumors about a possible suicide. The U.S. military is shooting that down. What did they tell reporters on the scene there at the airport?

WHITBECK: Well, reporters -- the reporters on the scene said that it looked like both men had died from bullet wounds, about 20 bullet wounds. There had been reports also that they had died during the firing of a TOW missile on that house. But U.S. military officials aren't ruling out suicide at this time. That was one of the rumors floating around earlier today, that the two men had committed suicide to avoid being captured by U.S. forces, but, again, from the coroner's report, it does seem that suicide was not the case in this matter.

HEMMER: All right, Harris, thanks. Harris Whitbeck, keep us posted there from Baghdad.


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