Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why Only an Iraqi Court will Trial Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein’s lawyers have called for the former Iraqi president to be tried outside Iraq in order to get a fair trial. In a letter to UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan, his lawyer wants Saddam tried at The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. He also requested the current Iraqi judges be replaced by foreign ones.

What do you think?

Well, let me tell you what I think. First, I’ll start off by reminding everyone of what Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) said:

"Saddam should be executed 20 times".

Then he outdid himself by making another highly prejudicial pre-trial statement on Iraqi government television, that Saddam had confessed to ordering the massacre of Kurds during the Anfal offensive. Saddam Husssein has NOT made any such confession.

Western legal experts criticised the trial, saying it’s nothing more than a showcase with the guilty verdict already pre-determined. The evidence and the prosecution process would be completely irrelevant.

The trial will be a display of what has been termed as the ‘victor's justice’ or a political vendetta. It has been designed to overlay and mask the actual ethnic score-settling by aggrieved victims of the former dictator. It won’t be in the same mode as the South African Truth Commission, which was about higher level political reconciliation.

Had the Iraqi interim (US selected/approved) government chosen that South African path, there would have been a golden opportunity for genuine reconciliation among the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. But alas, the Kurds, particularly, with the blessings of the US and the provocative urgings of the Israelis, are hell-bent on secession so reconciliation is not exactly top of their list of important stuff to do, if at all on the list.

Additionally, and probably the most important factor that explains why the Iraq interim government will definitely not permit Saddam Hussein to be trialled by an international independent body is that the USA doesn't want that, as the Americans will be implicated in Saddam's crimes.

In an independent court that is not subjected to US oversight, instruction and prodding, it will be not only be a PR disaster for the USA but some US officials of previous Administrations, including very high ranking ones, could face criminal charges. The USA had abetted Saddam Hussein in his massacre of the Shiites and Kurds, and even the Iranians, so it won't do to have US complicity in Saddam's crimes revealed.

Chilean judge Juan Guzman Tapia, who led the legal fight against former President Augusto Pinochet for human rights abuses, agreed that Saddam Hussein will NOT get a fair trial, and should be judged by only non-Iraqi judges. He stated that 'interested' parties, namely those who suffered (Kurds and Shiites), or benefited (Sunnis) from Saddam’s rule should not sit in judgement of the man. And may KTemoc add, neither should the USA.

Saddam’s lawyer asked for a court that will enjoy ‘independent and impartial international judges’, and not one that will go all out to ‘fix’ Saddam.

Saddam’s defence team also complained of the prosecution disadvantaging them by denying the defence of a copy of the accusation list, nor grant them proper access to Saddam, nor provide them with sufficient time to study the charges, as had been requested for the past three months.

Given this situation, we may expect a kangaroo court that would have already found Saddam Hussein guilty as charged, or as the Kurds and Shiites (and Americans) wish. In other words, find him guilty, then give him a 'fair trial' but make sure he doesn't blab about US complicity, then executed him to shut his mouth up for good.

In this respect the Butcher of Baghdad had been less hypocritical as he killed and murdered without the pretence of holding a so-called ‘fair’ trial, while his opposition now intends to commit exactly the same crime, namely kill on the basis of dislike, but with the hypocrisy of a trial added to legitimise the preordained execution.

The Iraqis must demonstrate their democratic merits and respect for due process of law by allowing Saddam Hussein to be trialled by The Hague. But OK, I won't hold my breath.

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