Western lawyers say due process abandoned in Saddam trial: NYT

[JURIST] Western lawyers involved with the trial of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] for crimes against humanity [JURIST report] in the Iraqi town of Dujail [JURIST news archive; BBC verdict summary] alleged in a New York Times exclusive [text] Wednesday that due process was violated in the trial, and that Iraqi government interference clouded the verdict and eventual execution [JURIST report] of Hussein. In the article, Canadian lawyer William H. Wiley, who assisted the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) during the trial of Hussein, claimed that Judge Munthur Hadi, one of the judges on the panel that issued the verdict [text, PDF] and death sentence against Hussein, was removed from the proceedings at the behest of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile]. While the alleged rationale behind Hadi's removal is a recent revelation, a number of similar objections were raised at the time by Hussein defense counsel and others writing op-eds on the Hussein trial [JURIST Forum archive] for JURIST. Hussein lawyers Curtis Doebbler and Giovanni Di Stefano [JURIST op-eds] repeatedly complained of political interference with the IHT judiciary allegedly brought about by those seeking to secure a death sentence for Hussein. Chibli Mallat [JURIST op-ed], who was asked to serve on the special tribunal trying Hussein but declined to do so, also expressed process concerns.

The trial and execution of Hussein was met with widespread condemnation by international organizations and rights groups [JURIST reports], including Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy press releases]. HRW released a briefing paper [text, PDF; JURIST report] in June 2006 detailing factual and legal errors in the trial, including sole reliance on the political affiliation of the defendants to determine knowledge of the Dujail crimes, and failure of the judgment to establish clear lines of operation control needed to prove the culpability of the higher officials for the acts of the military. The report also found serious flaws in the decision issued by IHT Appeals Chamber, including instances where it came to faulty legal conclusions based upon factual findings never made by the Trial Chamber. HRW says that the trial was also plagued by political interference from the Iraqi government and emphasized that the procedural and substantive deficiencies in the Dujail trial remain prevalent in the Anfal genocide trial [JURIST news archive; BBC trial timeline], where six former Hussein-era defendants are facing genocide charges for their alleged involvement in the slaughter of thousands of Kurds during the 1988 "Anfal campaign" [HRW backgrounder].



 

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