Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Brought to you by ABC News Online, a story that couldn't be made up:

Saddam trial not independent or impartial: UN official

A United Nations judicial expert has criticised the trial which sentenced former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to death as neither impartial nor fair.

UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, says he has "strong objections" regarding the conduct of the trial and is concerned about "the consequences this judgment may have over the situation in Iraq and in the region".
This is bound to make Kofi Annan deeply concerned.
Mr Despouy says Saddam, who was sentenced to hang, should be tried on appeal by an independent and impartial court backed by the United Nations.
UN, independent, impartial. Steady ...
In a statement, he urged the Iraqi authorities not to carry out the death sentences handed down to Saddam and his half-brother and former intelligence chief, Barzan al-Tikriti, for their roles in the death of 148 Shiite villagers.
Saddam, you hired the wrong lawyer: you needed Despouy!
"Their application would represent a serious legal setback for the country and would be in open contradiction to the growing international tendency to abolish the death penalty," Mr Despouy said.
Apart from the growing international tendency to reintroduce the death penalty via fatwas and Shari'a courts.
"[The trial shows] the lack of observance of a legal framework that conforms to international human rights principles and standards, ...
Well, that just excluded the UN.
... in particular the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal which upholds the right to a defence."
I presume that Despouy didn't think much of Hussein's lawyers, including the US attorney Ramsey Clarke.
He also highlighted "its doubtful legitimacy and credibility".
That is what psychiatrists call projection.
"The tribunal has been established during an occupation considered by many as illegal, is composed of judges who have been selected during this occupation, including non-Iraqi citizens, and has been mainly financed by the United States," Mr Despouy said.
Considered by many insurgents as illegal. Invited by the sovereign government of Iraq to remain. But point taken about the finance - sounds like those Halliburton contractors did a lousy yet expensive job with the courtroom interior decor.
He underlined "the negative impact of the violence and the insecurity prevailing in the course of the trial and in the country".
Underlined it with a big yellow flouro marker. For those journalists who had trouble taking dictation.
"Since its beginning, one of the judges, five candidate judges, three defence lawyers and an employee of the tribunal have been killed," he said.
Sounds like more work for the Iraqi courts then.
"Moreover, another employee of the tribunal has been seriously injured."
And a workers compensation scheme. What's that scraping noise coming from that barrel?

He said the court has a limited jurisdiction, since it could only judge Iraqis.

I sense Despouy will be aiming to get Hussein off on a technicality by providing evidence of Icelandic nationality.

"[It does not have competence to] try the war crimes committed by foreign troops during the first Gulf War, nor the war crimes committed after 1 May 2003, [the date of the beginning of the occupation," he said.
Coincidentally this ties in with the dates US and Coalition boots were on the ground in Iraq.

Despouy prefers to leave swift justice to the International Court in the Hague, which did such a marvellous job trying Slobodan Milosevic.

UPDATE: Two positive reactions to the verdict here and here.

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