Former Iraqi Hostage Talks About Saddam Hussein's Capture - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/15/03

Former Iraqi Hostage Talks About Saddam Hussein's Capture

Sergio Coletta says Saddam Hussein should be tried for murder.

The South Mississippi man was among more than one hundred hostages taken captive by Saddam and used as "human shields" before the start of the first Gulf War.

He has some definite opinions about what should be done with Saddam Hussein and how his capture will likely impact the ongoing conflict in Iraq.

Coletta never met Saddam Hussein. But he was held hostage for more than two months by soldiers taking orders from the Iraqi dictator. Coletta was working as a ship surveyor in Kuwait in September of 1990 when he and dozens of others were seized and taken to Baghdad to help "shield" Iraqi military facilities.

"I never lost faith in the armed forces. I was in the Navy and I'm tickled pink that they got the man," said Sergio Coletta, as he discussed the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Coletta is understandably overjoyed about Hussein's capture. Thirteen years ago, the Moss Point man was held hostage by the dictator.

At the time, Muhammad Ali met with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of the hostages. Coletta's happy homecoming was big news in December of 1990.

"His purpose was to use us as human shields, hoping to discourage President Bush or anybody else from bombing the city, saying that if you bomb this place or the city, you're going to kill Americans or you're going to kill Brits. You're going to kill Germans. Japanese," said Coletta.

What to do with Saddam Hussein is the most pressing question following his capture. Coletta says the former ruler must be brought to justice.

"He should go before a tribunal. Although I have mixed feelings. I've done a lot of reading about Nuremberg and have yet to decide whether it was about justice or about revenge. It is a very fine line there. But he should be taken to trial and it should be really for murder," said the former hostage.

Coletta says Saddam Hussein in effect held all of Iraq hostage. The Iraqi people lived in constant fear of the ruthless leader.

"Iraqis are scared to death of the man and that he would somehow come back. And that was their problem. The stranglehold was there. And the fear that he would rise again was there. And once they caught him, that 's it. That balloon was burst. Thank God," Coletta said.

Although his ordeal in Iraq ended thirteen years ago, it remains a most vivid memory.

"The greatest feeling was being able, believe it or not, to take an afternoon nap, and wake up and you're home," he said.

Coletta says he's most happy for the people of Iraq. He expects more Iraqis will feel free to speak out and support the rebuilding of their country, now that Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat.

By Steve Phillips

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