The Trial of Saddam Hussein and The Fallout of The War

The Trial of Saddam Hussein


The fallout in the Middle East from the regime change in Iraq

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What A Shambles!

The trial of Saddam Hussein, heralded with a fanfare back in 2003 by the US, is now beginning to look like a kangaroo court set up by rank amateurs.

The cost to date, incurred by the US Regime Crimes liaison Office, is $128M.

What do they have to show for their money?
  • A defendant who won't appear

  • A trial only covering one small aspect of Saddam's time in office

  • Murdered lawyers and threats to the remaining members of court

  • A shortage of interpreters, the media have to supply their own

  • Mismatched desks for defence counsel benches, and poorly hung curtains hiding witnesses

  • No court record

  • No stenographers to produce a transcript

  • Witnesses whose testimony sounds barely credible

  • There is even a very real possibility that Saddam could get off
Nehal Bhuta, an international justice expert with Human Rights Watch, said:

"We have always had concerns that the writing was on the wall. There are a number of serious difficulties with the tribunal ... It's a concern that the necessary experience is just not there."

Was the invasion really all for this?

People should hang their heads in shame over this farce. This trial, unless it is taken in hand swiftly, will not provide Iraq with a firm foundation for its future; it will merely create more instability in that already blighted country.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Saddam Hussein's Lawyers Threatened

According to ex-US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Khalil Dulaimi (Saddam's chief lawyer), three men threatened Dulaimi as he boarded a plane from Baghdad to Jordan yesterday.

The men were removed from the flight.

Dulaimi said that he believed that one of them was an Iraqi security official.


"I saw three miserable people, one of them was daring airport security and some of the officers there. It seemed he was a man backed (by influential people) and affiliated with one of the security apparatus.

I asked airport security to check his identity and they did. His name is with us. I believe he sought to assassinate me, or assassinate the defence team


"We appeal for intervention from the United Nations to ensure a fair and honest trial, considering this miserable security situation."

Clark said:

"There were three people that threatened him (Dulaimi) directly and they were planning to board the plane. The security people removed them."

Clark also added that other lawyers have also received threats in the Baghdad courtroom during Saddam's trial.


"There were threats even at the court, on the balcony, there were three people making threats during the trial. I didn't personally receive any threat, or see anyone follow me".

It is believed that the threats came from individuals affiliated with the Iraqi interior ministry.

How can the "new" Iraq hope to build a stable foundation for the future, if the trial of its former dictator is conducted under these circumstances?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Saddam Boycotts Trial

Saddam Hussein, having walked out of his own trial on Tuesday with a verbal flourish of "go to hell!", has continued to boycott the trial.

Yesterday's hearing started four hours late, as the remaining performers in this "soap" discussed how to continue without the main defendant.

Once underway, the court heard from a male witness, voice disguised, who claimed to have been arrested following the assassination attempt against Saddam in Dujail.

He spoke of beatings in a Baghdad intelligence prison, and said Saddam's half-brother and co-defendant Barzan al-Tikriti was present at one point.

However, he admitted that he had been blindfolded and had been told by other detainees that it was Barzan who spoke.

Another witness described the round-up of people in Dujail:

"They told us they wanted to speak to us for 10 minutes. We were gone for four and a half years."

The trial has now been adjourned until 21 December.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Saddam Refuses To Attend Trial

Saddam Hussein is refusing to enter court to attend trial today.

He is complaining about the conditions in which he is being held, and how the trial is being conducted.

On Tuesday he told the judges to "go to hell", and stated that he would not return to an "unjust" court.

Additionally, a man arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill the top trial investigator has been freed by gunmen.

Negotiations are now under way on how the trial can proceed, with the defence team holding talks with the chief judge.

Under Iraqi law the trial can continue without the defendant present in the court room.

It is speculated that arrangements will be made for Saddam to watch the trial on a closed circuit TV link, with the right to intervene at certain points.

The chaos continues.

Witness A and B

Witness A, her voice disguised electronically, gave evidence yesterday in the ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein.

She said that at the age of sixteen, she had been stripped naked in what she called an "operation room" and chained to a table.

She alleges that 5 men beat her with steel cables and gave her electric shocks.

After that she claims that she and the other Dujail families were sent to the desert, where they lived for 4 years.


"We lost everything. All my youth is gone. Our future is gone."

However, the senior judge said to her:

"The details you are giving now are different from those you gave when your examination took place."

"This is true," she answered.

The defence note that some of the prosecution witnesses have a financial interest in the case, since they are also looking for financial compensation for what happened to them.

Then the leading defence counsel acting for Saddam Hussein questioned her.

She had been held in Abu Ghraib prison, he said, where he agreed that conditions had been terrible until just recently.

But had dogs been used against her? Were photographs taken of her?

No, she said.

This reminded people of the way that prisoners in Abu Ghraib were treated by their American jailers, after the invasion of Iraq.

There seems to be an almost a wistful, and misplaced, yearning in the minds of some for a return to the days of Saddam.

The next witness, an elderly woman - witness B, went into the curtained booth to give her evidence and had her voice disguised as well.

However, the electronics failed again and she was brought into the middle of the court to speak.

She couldn't be seen and identified, and the sound feed was cut off to the press box.

Other witnesses gave evidence about the 1982 visit by Saddam to the town of Dujail, and the assassination attempt on him was carried out.

Saddam's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti interrupted:

"Those people know nothing."

Saddam also interrupted, the judge did not try to stop him:

"Who arrested you?" Saddam asked.

"Men from Intelligence."

"How do you know?"

"They said so."

"What were their names

The witness gave the names.

"Describe them."

The witness proceeded to do it.

"How come you remember all these things".

"This was a great sadness to me. I can't forget a sadness."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hidden Witness

The trial of Saddam Hussein continues today, with the first hidden witness testifying.

The witness, a woman (called witness A), addressed the court from behind a screen in order to protect her identity.

However, there were technical problems with the equipment used to disguise her voice; the court then had to recess whilst the issue was addressed.

She said that Saddam's security forces had taken her brother and broke his arms, his legs, and then shot at his feet.

The trial continues.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Trial Resumes

Saddam Hussein's trial resumed again today, after a brief suspension 90 minute suspension this morning, following the walkout by his defence team.

They returned when the court reversed its decision, banning general Clark and others from speaking, and allowed the foreign members of the team to speak.

Judge Rizkar Mohammed Amin agreed to allowing them to speak, because of the court's desire to pursue its work "in transparency, it has agreed to listen to the oral arguments of the two defense attorneys".

Clark was given five minutes to speak, and al-Nuaimi was given 16 minutes. Clark's spoke about security, while al-Nuaimi spoke about the legitimacy of the court.

Amin told them off when they "went off subject", to discuss politics.

Clark said:

"If every form of participation in the judicial process is not protected, the judicial system will fail and be destroyed. The defense can not participate in this case until there is protection in place for the lawyers and their families."

The trial then saw and heard its first living witness, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al-Dujaili then took the stand.

He said:

"Massive forces came down to Dujail as if there was a war. I saw, by God, a scene I will never forget. I saw a machine that is like a grinder, and there was blood and hair inside."

Saddam Hussein interrupted several times, saying:

"You haven't given me pen or paper? How can I write down my ideas and notes?.."

al-Dujaili continued:

"Torture didn't exclude anyone. I was just 15 years old. I saw a women being tortured -- You took my brother but why did you take my mother and sisters?"

Saddam Hussein's Trial Suspended

The ongoing farce that is the trial of Saddam Hussein continued today, as the defence team walked out of court.

They were protesting about the fact that the presiding judge, Rizkar Mohammed Amin, refused to let former US attorney general Ramsey Clark and former Qatari justice minister Naji Nuaimi speak at the trial.

Amin said:

"Make a written request".

Clark responded:

"I just want two minutes".

The defence team then threatened to leave court, prompting Amin to say:

"As you like. Then we will have to appoint other lawyers."

Saddam at this point refused to have lawyers appointed by the court, and shouted:

"Long live Iraq. Long live the Arab nation. Long live Iraq."

Nuaimi said the court's refusal to hear the lawyers' request was "a violation of the rights of the defence", he noted that the court should examine its own legitimacy before proceeding with the trial.

Amin instructed that the defence should send him a written memo, covering any questions that they may have about the court's legitimacy, he promised to provide a written reply.

The trial is now suspended, to allow the defence to consider their next action.

I wonder if this trial could be handled any less well?