Human Rights Watch has driven another nail into the credibility of the "coffin" of Saddam Hussein's trial. They have stated that the trial was "fundamentally unfair", and that the death sentence he received earlier was "indefensible".
The damning indictment comes in the form of a 97 page review of the trial. In which they state that the trial:
"was marred by so many procedural and substantive flaws that the verdict is unsound."
The report calls upon the Iraqi tribunal to overturn the verdict, and its death sentence on Saddam.
Unsurprisingly the Iraqi government has rejected the report.
The report notes that the prosecution undermined several guarantees necessary to a fair trial under international law, including; the right to an independent and impartial court, the presumption of innocence, the ability to prepare a defence and the right to cross-examine witnesses.
Nehal Bhuta, a lawyer with the group's International Justice Program, in a statement accompanying the report said:
"Unless the Iraqi government allows experienced international judges and lawyers to participate directly, it's unlikely the court can fairly conduct other trials."
The report accuses the Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, of prejudicing the outcome of the trial by declaring Saddam guilty before the trial.
"While the trial of someone as notorious as Saddam Hussein will inevitably be accompanied by strong opinions and public discussion as to his guilt or otherwise, public authorities and in particular leading political figures are not relieved of their obligation to refrain from prejudicing the outcome of the trial.
In creating an environment in which judges feel intense pressure to be seen as dealing severely with the accused, such behavior undermines the guarantee of presumption of innocence at trial."
To replace one unjust system (as under Saddam) with another is hardly progress, nor should it warrant the exaltation "Mission Accomplished!".