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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Saddam could go free, QC warns

By Peter Munro
Age Correspondent
October 15, 2005

SADDAM Hussein could walk free of crimes against humanity unless next week's Baghdad trial is moved to The Hague, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has warned.

Mr Robertson, the London-based, Australian-born QC who has trained Iraqi judges and prosecutors on humanitarian and war crimes, said the jury was still out on whether justice would be done in Wednesday's trial of the deposed dictator.

However, he warned that unless there was a delay in proceedings, due to start only four days after today's crucial vote on a new Iraqi constitution, Saddam could escape conviction.

"The Iraqi judges took their oath under the old constitution, which gives the president immunity for everything he does during his presidency, so they may find themselves required to acquit him," Mr Robertson said from his North London home.

"If they were a proper international court such clauses have no effect in relation to crimes against humanity and genocide."

"He is being charged with international crimes and his conviction would carry more weight if it was rendered by both international and national judges."

Mr Robertson, 59, said a similar scheme had worked for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone, where he sits as an appeal judge.

He was among a team of legal experts from Britain and the US who have schooled Saddam's prosecutors and judges over the past 18 months in humanitarian law and war crimes.

The training included a mock trial of a fictional dictator during secret sessions in London.

Mr Robertson said that the judges on the Iraqi Special Tribunal, one of whom was assassinated in March, wanted to move the trial for fear of inciting further violence.

More than 400 people have been killed in less than three weeks in Iraq.

But that toll pales beside the 280,000 people thought to have been executed during Saddam's 20-year rule, according to Human Rights Watch.

Three Iraq judges, sitting without a jury, will first hear charges that Saddam ordered the 1982 massacre of 143 people in Dujail, a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad, after a failed assassination attempt.

Next week's trial is expected to be the first of about a dozen involving alleged crimes of Saddam and seven of his cohorts, including the gassing of 5000 Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

None of the judges have experience of cases involving crimes of genocide and mass murder.

Mr Robertson said time was running out for the Iraq provisional authority to resolve this and other problems that could undermine the proceedings.

No decision has been made on how much, if any, of the trials will be televised. Saddam's lawyer, Kahil Dulaimi, has also criticised the prosecution for allegedly failing to provide access to his client or details of his charges.

"The trial was set up by the Americans and the hope was that the Iraqis would have these problems sorted out by now," Mr Robertson said. "But the Government hasn't dealt with them."

In October last year, Mr Robertson lectured Iraqi judges and prosecutors against pushing for the death penalty for Saddam if found guilty.

Mr Robertson used as an example the trial and execution of King Charles I as detailed in Mr Robertson's new book, The Tyrannicide Brief. The prosecution case was led by John Cooke, who for his role in the regicide was subsequently hung, drawn and quartered.

Saddam used almost the exact words of Charles I when appearing in court last year: "By what lawful authority do you bring me to trial?"

■ The British barrister who helped free the Guildford Four from jail has been asked to defend Saddam.

BBC's Newsnight program said Anthony Scrivener, QC, would travel to Iraq to represent him. But a representative of his chambers said that although Mr Scrivener had been approached about acting for Saddam, he had not yet taken on the job.

Link Here

Ohhhhhhhhh S*** , now wouldnt

it be wonderful to see these two

deviates at the hague together


Blogger politiques USA said...

There was a communique from the Defense Dept. a few days ago in which they stated they were comitted to International Laws which is completely wrong of course: pre-emptive wars do not belong to the standard of International Laws at all, neither "justice" which is as a matter of fact a terrorist act under a military commandment, nor self-defense pretext.
If you do remember the anthrax attacks in the US, they were done by extremist groups inside the US but the story was ignored by the medias to exploit it to their own advantage for the war in Iraq. The FBI did not do its job at all. There are lots of stuffs that have been wrong and Americans have been betrayed by their government, and the ones who voted for Bush have blood on their hands too.

The global test has failed and I really hope in the future that the ICC and signatory members will challenge the Bush administration; nobody should be exonerated from warcrimes.

15/10/05 11:06 AM  
Blogger Kangaroo Brisbane Australia said...

Amen, nobody Bush Blair and frikin Howard as far as I am concerned anyone connected to this illegal war, and occupation have blood on their hands including cable news and the media that trumped the war to the people knowing they were lying through their teeth

15/10/05 4:36 PM  

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