Saddam Lawyer Says Trial Mockery of Justice
Saddam Hussein will not get a fair trial and his captors have already decided his fate, the deposed Iraqi president’s defense lawyer said Wednesday. “This is a mockery of justice. We are facing clear legal violations. … The allegations that this is going to be a fair trial is baseless,” said Mohammad Rashdan, one of a 20-member legal team appointed by Saddam’s wife to represent him.
“Any trial of the president is illegal and unjust and it follows from the aggression that took place against Iraq. The trial is a farce and the guilty verdict had been issued even before the trial has begun,” he added. Rashdan said he and his legal associates in the United States filed suits against the U.S. authorities for not allowing them access to Saddam. The defense team was not given any of the tons of documentation prepared by a special tribunal that will try the former Iraqi leader, he added.
He said the team, which includes lawyers from the United States and France, had been threatened by Iraqi officials and feared for their lives if they came to Baghdad to defend Saddam without international protection. “They should provide us with international protection. … Do they want to slaughter all the lawyers? If the court is not capable of ensuring a proper defense, is this is the justice they are thinking of delivering?” Rashdan said.
Saddam’s aides and others among the 55 most wanted Iraqis on a U.S. list are seen as witnesses who could help prove a chain of command linking Saddam to crimes against humanity. Saddam will be charged with ordering the 1988 massacres of Kurds, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, according to Chalabi.
Trying deposed tyrants is always rather tricky. Almost by definition, they didn’t violate the laws of the country they were running, since being above the law is rather the nature of tyranny. Holding them accountable ex post facto under the new laws of Iraq, assuming they are written, is dubious as well. And international law is incredibly ad hoc on these matters. There are, of course, precedents (Nuremburg and the Milosovik cases, most notably) but they’re rather controversial and viewed by many as victor’s justice.
Still, by the standards of Saddam’s Iraq, this will be a fair trial indeed.