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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Saddam's trial resumes in chaos

BAGHDAD, 6 December 2005 (IRIN) - The trial of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein reconvened on 5 December for its fourth day amid chaos in the courtroom and accusations of unfair bias.

“The judge has no control over the courtroom,” said Khalil al-Dulaime, a lawyer for Saddam. “And the use of anonymous witnesses is proof that the court isn’t operating fairly and transparently.”

He went on to describe the legal proceedings as “theatre.”

Saddam and seven former aides stand accused of killing 148 Shi'ite Muslims in the southern city of Dujail in 1982. The defendants deny the charges.

On Tuesday, a number of people gave evidence of being tortured by the Iraqi secret police at the orders of Saddam and his regime. One witness, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed, described how, after being beaten, he saw a mincing machine into which human bodies were fed, the BBC reported.

Members of the defence team, however, complained bitterly about the procedures, which they perceived as not being impartial.

“Witnesses were given the chance to speak without being cross-examined,” said Saddam lawyer Salman Youssef. “They should have been asked about every detail, step by step – not just let talk.”

On Monday, the trial was suspended for more than an hour after the defence team walked out in protest to the court’s legitimacy. Defence lawyers also voiced fears for their personal safety, especially after the killing of two colleagues last month.

Some members of the public who watched the trial also expressed surprise over court proceedings.

“We were expecting the trial to be clearer, without all this discussion,” said Baghdad resident Haki Walled. “And there is no international representation in the court.”

Human rights experts stated this week that the trial did not satisfy international procedural standards. “The legitimacy of this trial should be well and carefully studied,” said John Case, a UN human rights official in Iraq.

Two human-rights watchdogs, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch, have also expressed concern over the trial’s legitimacy.

“Whatever Saddam Hussein has done, his trial should proceed in a legitimate way,” said AI spokeswoman Nicole Choueiry. “He should be charged for his crimes, but under international law.”

Themes: (IRIN) Governance



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