The delayed verdict on the first trial of Saddam Hussein is expected to be delivered tomorrow, two days before US mid terms.
On Sunday, five judges in a Baghdad court are scheduled to deliver their verdict and sentence on Saddam and former members of his regime, who have pleaded innocent to the killing of 148 Muslim Shiites from the northern Iraqi town of Dujail. The inhabitants were shot after an attempt to assassinate Saddam as he passed through the town in 1982.
The U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, has denied that his government had anything to do with the timing of the verdict, saying that while the United States gives security and logistical support to the court, it does not influence its decisions.
The Ambassador may, or may not, be speaking truthfully. However, he ignores the fact that justice has not just to be done, but be seen to be done. Where there is even the faintest hint of political influence in the timing or the result of the trial, the verdict and the justice system on which the new Iraq is supposed to be being built will be forever tainted and undermined.
This is not a promising start for the new Iraq.