Your Most Trusted Source of Foreign News and Views About the United States
By Tahar Selmi
October 24 - 30 Issue
Tunis Hebdo - Home Page (French)
The trial of Saddam Hussein recalls in many respects the famous "Dreyfus Affair." It has hardly even begun, and already it has created a violent debate between allies and adversaries of the former Master of Baghdad; it splits the Iraqi people into two distinct parts; it divides Arab public opinion (but not Arab governments!); and it has agitated human rights defenders around the world.
†[Editorís Note: The "Dreyfus Affair" was a political scandal that created great rifts in French society during the 1900s. It centered on the 1894 treason conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. Dreyfus was charged with passing military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. Dreyfus was, in fact, innocent; the conviction rested on false documents. After spending years at Devilís Island, Dreyfus was pardoned in 1899, readmitted into the army, and made a knight in the Legion of Honor.[Read More About Dreyfus]
Suspicious, and without doubt calculated, the way in which this trial is being administered worsens the dissension between those for and against the former dictator, inflames passions and has all the ingredients to spark a major conflagration in the country of Rafidaine [the Land of the Two Rivers: Iraq], and elsewhere.
Everything possible was done to prevent this trial from being transparent and equitable, as would have befitted a just democracy: broadcast of the questioning is delayed; the remarks of defendants are cut short; TV cameras donít move; and the absence of eyewitnesses, Draconian restrictions on the international press and the non-governmental organizations, as well as a defense lawyer murdered ... all combine to create merely a pretence of justice. All things considered, it hardly differs from trials that occur under the extreme totalitarian regimes Mr. George Walker Bush claims to be fighting.
International law - and human rights for all - has been weakened. This is the greatest victim of this trial. The procedure has been perverted in the most arrogant way.
First of all, the occupying power has assumed "sovereignty" to set in place a judicial structure to try Saddam Hussein: the famous Iraqi Special Tribunal, created in 2003 under American military occupation. And secondly, it named a Kurdish judge, Magistrate Rizgar Mohamed Amine, as the president of the tribunal. A magistrate who is judge and jury!†
In the face of such flagrant legal infringements, international organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and a large number of people in the global press, have expressed their doubts as to the fairness of the trial, pointing in particular to limits on the rights of the defense, the danger of the politization of the trial, and the maintenance of the death penalty.
"It is not a fair trial according to American or European criteria. The whole thing is a bit of a public relations circus," opined British jurist Jonthan Goldberg, speaking on the American television station CNN.
The curtain rose on the trial of "Satan
Hussein," as it is known at the White House, on a matter that was
rarely evoked before: the murder or disappearance of 143 Shiites from Doujail
Washington and other Western capitals offered support to the heir of the Abbasids [Saddam], with money and military hardware. It is a sensitive subject that it would be imprudent to raise at this particular point in the process. "Much of the truth will remain hidden as a result of this trial," says an Iranian diplomat regretfully.
†[Editorís Note: The Abbasids ruled the former Caliphate of Baghdad, 750-1258 AD]. [Read More About the Abbasids]
If Saddam Hussein is found guilty for the crimes of Doujail, he could be executed before the other cases are examined. Would such an eventuality favor Iraqi national harmony, peace and stability?
This trial is a powerful ticking bomb. It will cause much ink to flow Ö and especially, a lot of blood.