Hanging for Saddam
Iraqi authorities hope to see Saddam Hussein face capital charges punishable by hanging when he stands trial sometime after June 30, the head of Iraq’s special tribunal on war crimes said yesterday.
Salem Chalabi also said the Iraqi government expects to file charges quickly against Saddam and other top members of his regime once it assumes authority at the end of the month.
Saddam “may be charged relatively soon,” said Mr. Chalabi from Baghdad. “We can expect movement after June 30. We are working the arrangements out.”
Although the charges remain to be decided, Saddam has been widely accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. According to the Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, if any of these acts was committed by a subordinate, he would not be relieved of criminal responsibility. Asked whether Saddam could face the death penalty, Mr. Chalabi answered “Yes,” adding that Iraqi law stipulated death by hanging for civilians and by firing squad for soldiers.
The death penalty in Iraq has been suspended by U.S. Administrator L. Paul Bremer, but the law is still on the books and Mr. Chalabi said members of the Iraqi government have discussed reinstating it after June 30. “I suspect it is not unlikely they will do that,” he said. Complicating the decision, however, is pressure from international donor countries trying to tie aid to keeping the moratorium in place.
One suspects a compromise can be worked out that would allow capital punishment for extreme cases such as Saddam’s. If ever there was a poster boy for the death penalty, he’s it.