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The execution of Saddam Hussein
The execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein serves not justice, but the political purposes of the Bush administration and its Iraqi stooges. The manner in which the execution was carried out—hurriedly, secretively, in the dark of night, in a mockery of any semblance of legal process—only underscores the lawless and reactionary character of the entire American enterprise in Iraq.
There were conflicting statements throughout Friday about how and under what circumstances the death sentence against Hussein, confirmed by an Iraqi government tribunal December 26, would be carried out. There were continual communications back and forth between the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which nominally controlled the judicial proceedings, and the American military authorities who had physical control of the prisoner and delivered him to the execution site in the US-controlled Green Zone.
The decision to send Hussein to the gallows was not a judicial but a political one. It was signaled by al-Maliki himself after the death sentence was pronounced by a special tribunal on November 5, when the Iraqi prime minister declared that Hussein would be executed before the New Year. In the rush to impose the penalty on that timeline, Iraqi officials ignored both elementary principles of judicial fairness and even their own constitution, which requires confirmation of a death sentence by the current Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani.
As Richard Dicker, international justice director of Human Rights Watch, explained in a column Friday in the Guardian, the legal procedure was a travesty.
“The trial judgment,” he wrote, “was not finished when the verdict and sentence were announced on November 5. The record only became available to defense lawyers on November 22. According to the tribunal’s statute, the defense attorneys had to file their appeals on December 5, which gave them less than two weeks to respond to the 300-page trial decision. The appeals chamber never held a hearing to consider the legal arguments presented as allowed by Iraqi law. It defies belief that the appeals chamber could fairly review a 300-page decision together with written submissions by the defense and consider all the relevant issues in less than three weeks.”