Saddam Hussein trial seen as easy conviction

first_img Milosevic has skillfully manipulated his proceedings to win back a measure of support among his fellow Serbs, many of whom believe the trial is unfair. Iraqi officials hope to avoid that and are aiming for a speedy conviction – likely followed by a death sentence. For months, Iraqi officials have hinted they have seized documents tying Saddam directly to the massacre. “The Dujail case is the easiest to put together as far as evidence-gathering and preparation is concerned,” one of the judges on the Iraqi Special Tribunal told The Associated Press. “There are documents that have been seized and verified concerning the case.” His identity, and those of others on the tribunal, are being kept secret to deter reprisals by Saddam loyalists or other insurgents. Saddam’s legal team, in turn, seems likely to ask for an immediate delay when the trial starts Wednesday, arguing it has not been allowed to see key documents and has not had sufficient time to prepare a defense. Saddam himself has challenged the entire legitimacy of the court that will try him and is likely to argue that he enjoyed immunity from prosecution under the Iraqi Constitution in force at the time. The judges are Iraqis appointed under an interim Iraqi government created by the former U.S. occupation authorities. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi authorities have chosen a little-known case with which to launch the prosecution of Saddam Hussein because it affords the best chance for a speedy conviction – and because it gives the long-suppressed Shiite majority a first crack at the former Iraqi dictator. But the decision to push ahead with the trial, due to start Wednesday in the capital’s heavily guarded Green Zone, also carries some high risks for Iraq. The timing, four days after the contentious constitutional referendum, and the case itself may fuel fears among Sunni Arabs that the Shiite Muslims who now control Iraq are more interested in settling scores than in providing justice. The New York-based Human Rights Watch also warned that the special Iraqi court established to try former regime figures “runs the risk of violating international standards for fair trials.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “In Iraq’s fragile political climate, the legitimacy of the court will be in question,” Human Rights Watch said. The trial focuses on the role of Saddam and seven allies in a 1982 massacre in Dujail, a heavily Shiite town 50 miles north of Baghdad. About 150 people were executed and up to 1,500 others imprisoned and tortured after Shiite militants there failed to assassinate Saddam. The toll pales against the thousands of Kurds who were gassed to death in Halabja in 1988 or with the thousands of Shiites slaughtered after a 1991 uprising – or even with the countless Iraqis whose lives were ruined by Saddam’s regime. But a comprehensive trial covering all of Saddam’s alleged crimes could take years to complete, especially in the midst of a bloody insurgency being waged largely by the ousted president’s fellow Sunni Arabs. So Iraqi leaders and their American advisers – who seem keen to avoid a repeat of the U.N. trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that has dragged on since 2002 – chose this case. last_img read more

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