|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Friday, July 02, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Saddam to put judicial system on trial
By Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press
In Amman, Jordan, Saddam's team of lawyers fumed that the proceedings only proved that their client cannot expect a fair trail.
"The mockery of Saddam Hussein's trial shows there is no democracy," said Mohammed Rashdan, a Jordanian who heads the international defense team. "They shouldn't have asked him any questions without a lawyer there."
"The tribunal being put in place by the Americans is a disguised execution squad," said French attorney Emmanuel Ludot. Rashdan was hired by Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah. The defense team also includes lawyers from Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, the United States, Britain and Belgium.
Attorney Tim Hughes of Britain said he and his colleagues were "kept in the dark" about the proceedings. He said the lawyers were ready to go to Iraq, but "we will be wanting to have full assurances" of their safety.
Issam Ghazawi, a member of Saddam's defense team, said he had received threats in a telephone call Wednesday from someone claiming to be with the Iraqi Justice Ministry who warned anyone who tried to defend Saddam would be "chopped to pieces."
The lawyers said they are appealing to the U.S. government, the Red Cross and France, Belgium and Britain to secure their passage to Baghdad, and to protect them while they are there.
"It is very important for us to meet our client," Rashdan said. "We can't defend him in the dark. It's already illegal. And if they refuse that, it just makes it more illegal."
Cases involving allegations of large-scale war crimes are exceptionally complex. Often the defendant has no blood on his hands, but is accused of having command responsibility. Proving that can be tricky. Often, leaders have destroyed physical evidence. Oral accounts can be difficult to obtain in countries where there were vicious security services that people fear will regain power.
And because these acts are committed during conflicts, leaders who are on trial can also claim that the measures they took were defensive.
The outlines of Saddam's defense seem clear. His lawyers said the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the selection of the judges and the creation of the court under the U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council are illegal.
Saddam's performance yesterday left observers with the impression that he would use the trial to grandstand, according to Jose Alvarez, who teaches international law at Columbia Law School, and has followed the tribunal's work. Such behavior could provoke outbursts of violence as well as deep skepticism about instituting the rule of law in Iraq.
"Just by Saddam standing up and saying: 'I want Rumsfeld to take the stand' to show that other people, other leaders acquiesced in some of these atrocious acts has an effect," he said, referring to Donald Rumsfeld's 1983 visits to the Middle East, in which he met with Saddam on behalf of the Reagan administration at a time when the United States was trying to improve relations between the countries.
Perhaps more important, such statements by Saddam could resonate strongly with Iraqis, many of whom are deeply critical of the U.S.-led occupation.
"Saddam is one of this society, and he knows the people," said Saddoun Dulaimi, director of the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top