BAGHDAD - Mowaffak al-Rubaie sits in his office with a statue of Saddam Hussein behind him, the rope used to hang the dictator around its neck, recalling his final minutes.
The former national security advisor, who oversaw Saddam's 2006 execution, said he remained strong until the end, and never expressed any regret.
"A criminal? True. A killer? True. A butcher? True. But he was strong until the end.
"I received him (Saddam) at the door. No one entered with us - no foreigners, and no Americans," Rubaie said in an interview with AFP at his office in the Kadhimiyah area of north Baghdad, near the prison where the execution took place seven years ago.
"He was wearing a jacket and a white shirt, normal and relaxed, and I didn't see any signs of fear.
"Of course, some people want me to say that he collapsed or that he was drugged, but these facts are for history," Rubaie said.
"I didn't hear any regret from him, I didn't hear any request for mercy from God from him, or request for pardon.
"A person who is about to die usually says, 'God, forgive my sins - I am coming to you.' But he never said any of that," Rubaie told AFP.
Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq for more than two decades marked by brutal repression, disastrous wars and punishing international sanctions, was hanged after being found guilty of crimes against humanity for the 1982 killing of 148 Shiite villagers in Dujail.