Saddam defense expected to move again for delay on eve of trial

[JURIST] A lawyer who has worked with Saddam Hussein's defense team said Monday that the defense will likely begin pre-trial proceedings on Tuesday by once again requesting a six month delay. The defense is expected to argue that it has not been given 45 days to review all prosecution documents as provided by Rule 45 of the Iraqi Special Tribunal’s Rules for Proceedings and Evidence Gatherings [PDF text]. A previous delay request was rejected [JURIST report] by the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website; the court is in the process of beig redesignated the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal] last Saturday. The trial [JURIST news archive] of the ousted Iraqi dictator is set to start Wednesday. The Financial Times has more.

Meanwhile Monday, a spokesman for the US State Department noted [briefing transcript] in the context of recent criticism {JURIST report] by rights groups {JURIST report] and even the UN that the US was satisfied with the legality of Hussein's trial process:

I think if you take a look at it, the basic elements for a trial that meet international standards are there. You have a defendant that has access to defense counsel. You have an appeals process. You have a process that is then set up in accordance with Iraqi laws. Now, we'll see how this process moves forward. It's certainly our expectation and our hope would be that it moves forward in accordance with the laws and the regulations that have been put in place.
The spokesman also suggested that “the Saddam trial is going to be an important process for the Iraqi people in coming to terms and really closing a dark period, dark chapter in their history.” Other observers say, however, that the Iraqi people have already shifted their thoughts to the future, and that for them Saddam's prosecution will not be the touted "trial of the century". One US Marine political officer stationed in Baghdad noted, "[Iraqis] never bring him [Saddam] up. He is yesterday's man. They have too many other things to worry about." AP has more on the Iraqi response to the trial. The Guardian provides international perspective.

 

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