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CNN LIVE SUNDAY

Interview With Riccardo Orizio

Aired May 25, 2003 - 16:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: If Saddam Hussein is still alive, he's in plenty of company as a deposed dictator in exile. Italian journalist Riccardo Orizio has been spent years finding and interviewing actually some of modern history's most notorious exiled individuals. He's written about them in his book "Talk of the Devil." And Riccardo Orizio joins us now from New York. Good to see you, Mr. Orizio.
RICCARDO ORIZIO, AUTHOR OF "TALK OF THE DEVIL": Yes, hello.

WHITFIELD: Let me ask you, there has been much talk that Saddam Hussein and his sons are very much alive. However, on the other hand, something like up to 30 of the 55 most wanted in the deck of cards are now in custody. Realistically, how might the U.S. or the coalition forces go about getting them to talk, to perhaps reveal information about where Saddam Hussein and his sons might be?

ORIZIO: Of course, but even if Saddam Hussein is going to be caught by the American and British forces, actually let's not forget that the bizarre thing about a deposed, disgraced dictator is that in five years' time, ten years' time, he's going to be forgotten if not forgiven. But certainly forgotten. Some of the people I met and interviewed, like Idi Amin of Uganda, like Bocasa, the self-proclaimed emperor of central Africa, like Mengistu, the Red Nagus of Ethiopia, or maybe Dr. Duvaliers from Haiti. They are living peacefully. And all of us have forgotten about them.

WHITFIELD: Did any of them, during the times of your conversations with Idi Amin or Duvaliers, any of them ever express that they had a desire to return back to their homeland or even try to find some kind of support, even know they were living in exile?

ORIZIO: Oh, yes. Of course. They all talk about coming back to a triumphant return. But obviously this is not realistic. They actually claim that they've been betrayed by more important people and higher powers and super powers. They all say, our only thought was to be labeled monsters for propaganda reasons. But many other people like us committed the same mistakes, made the same mistakes. And they were not labeled monsters. So why us?

WHITFIELD: How realistically should the coalition forces consider the fact that if Saddam Hussein is indeed alive, and that he is trying to garner that support from some of those Ba'ath party loyalists, to try to have some sort of overthrowing of this temporary infrastructure in place, governmental infrastructure in place in Iraq, and that perhaps he might find a way to work his way back into power? ORIZIO: Yes, of course, this is very realistic. It is realistic that Saddam Hussein will try that. It is also realistic to think that the other alternative Saddam Hussein has is what I call the Milosevic- Noriega mentality, meaning that once he is definitely lost, even is captured, he still has the opportunity to go on trial and try, from his point of view, to embarrass the enemies, making revelations about past business deals. For instance, between American companies, Russian companies, and the Iraqi regime. This is what General Noriega of Panama tried but failed to do during his trial in Florida. It's what Milosevic is trying to do now in the Hague.

WHITFIELD: Well if, in the case, Saddam Hussein were to take a very similar path, who or what country would actually come to his aid in his defense if it were to go to custody and eventually some sort of tribunal or trial as you say?

ORIZIO: Let's not forget that Saudi Arabia is providing a safe harbor to Idi Amin, a real monster responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Ugandis. And that is done in the name of Islamic solidarity that is due to a former head of state, Muslim head of state, whose life is in danger. And there's also internal reasons for making this hypothesis. If an Islamic regime provides safe harbor to Saddam Hussein, automatically is gaining brownie points with the internal opposition, for instance.

WHITFIELD: OK. Riccardo Orizio, analyst and author of the book "Talk of the Devil, Encounters with Seven Dictators," thanks very much for joining us.

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