Al Majid trial a farce, Iraqi criminal justice system inadequate

Giovanni Di Stefano [lawyer for Ali Hassan Al Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali", Studio Legale Internazionale, Rome]: "The case of Al Majid can be summarized by the following phrase that he uttered in my presence to the Iraqi High Tribunal Judge when sentenced to death: 'thank God now I can have you judges out of my hair'. The Anfal Trial was and remains a trial contrary to natural justice and like the Saddam Hussein trial criticised by all and sundry. The Trial Judge refused a number of applications to admit probative evidence of an exculpatory nature and the outcome was already pre-designated. We were told two months prior to the conclusion of the proceedings (I was told March 8th 2007 in Baghdad) that three would be executed, one acquitted and one jailed for life. If counsel is notified prior to the conclusion of a trial the outcome it becomes an absurdity proceeding and a farce.

No doubt Al Majid will be executed shortly and no doubt all and sundry will indeed petition the Iraqi Government to stay the execution. Iraq is not ready to assume the responsibility of its criminal justice system. Its venue is not safe and thus any decision by the judiciary unsafe and subject to scrutiny. I have pleaded that trials be presided by International Judges but to date those pleas have fallen on barren ground. So long as the status continues any outcome from any trial will remain unsafe if not unfair. Al Majid though remains in high spirits and has not allowed the decision to change his daily agenda retaining his dignity. In the meantime Tariq Aziz and Humad Humadi remain in custody without charge in excess of four years. Fortunately ex-air force commander Hashim Rija Shlah was recently released after four years without charge and without an apology. He will make no application for compensation for wrongful arrest. No such procedure exists in Iraq."

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