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Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Death, Legal Experts Question Court Proceedings
An Iraqi court sentenced Saddam Hussein to death by hanging for committing crimes against humanity. The decision was announced on Sunday, just two days before the U.S. mid-term elections. We speak with Scott Horton, the Chairman of the International Law Committee and a member of the Iraqi Bar Association.
On Sunday, an Iraqi special tribunal convicted Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging. The deposed Iraqi ruler was convicted of the killing of 148 Shi'ite villagers in the town of Dujail in 1982. Seven co-defendants were also convicted and two of them, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and head of Iraq's domestic intelligence agency and Awad al-Bandar, president of the revolutionary court, also received death sentences. Celebrations in Shi'ite strongholds broke out across the country after the verdict was issued. Here is a resident of Dujail speaking on Sunday about the verdict.
* Ahmed Ajail, resident of Dujail.
Saddam supporters also marched in support of the ousted leader in the Sunni strongholds of Samarra, Hawija, Kirkuk and Tikrit. The verdict came nearly three years after Saddam Hussein was captured in his underground hideaway by American troops. His trial began more than a year ago and was marked by delays, violence and outbursts from Hussein condemning the proceedings. During the course of the trial, three defense lawyers were killed and the original chief judge resigned in protest over government interference. When the verdict was read yesterday, Saddam shouted "You don't decide. You are servants of the occupiers and their followers. You are puppets." Many international legal and human rights experts have questioned the legitimacy of the court. Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying, "Unfortunately, we believe the serious shortcomings in the fairness of the proceedings undermined the legitimacy and credibility of the trial." But President Bush hailed the verdict as a milestone.
* President Bush, speaking November 5th, 2006.
We discuss the trial and verdict of Saddam Hussein as well as take a look at some other legal cases in Iraq with attorney Scott Horton.
* Scott Horton, Chairman of the International Law Committee at the New York Bar Association. Member of the Iraqi Bar Association.
The death sentences handed down yesterday against Saddam Hussein and three other prominent figures in his regime are the outcome of show trial concocted for political purposes. Amid unspeakable atrocities being committed against the people of Iraq every day by the US occupation forces, a hand-picked court has condemned the former Iraqi dictator to die. The very timing of the sentence is an attempt to lift the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party in Tuesday’s congressional elections by energising its right-wing base with the prospect of a high profile legal lynching.
Saddam Hussein and the leading personnel of the Iraqi Baath Party should be tried for the litany of crimes they committed against the Iraqi people. The Bush administration, however, and the American ruling class as a whole, have no right to oversee the trial of anyone in Iraq for crimes against humanity. The invasion of 2003 was a war crime, an unprovoked act of aggression that was justified with lies and carried out in defiance of international law.
In the subsequent three-and-a-half years, the US occupation has attempted to subjugate the Iraqi people through mass killings, torture and the destruction of entire cities. A study conducted by the John Hopkins University—the only credible attempt to estimate the number of casualties inflicted by the war and occupation—found that the US government is responsible for the deaths of 655,000 Iraqis. Preceding the war, the United Nations sanctions from 1991 to 2003 cost the lives of one million Iraqis through malnutrition and disease.
The pro-war media are predictably highlighting the instances of celebration among Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis in response to the death sentence against Hussein. There can be no concept of justice in Iraq, however, until the individuals in Washington, London and elsewhere who are responsible for 15 years of death and suffering are brought to trial and the illegal occupation of the country by tens of thousands of American and allied troops has been ended.