TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE Faisal Hashmi (june. 21, 2006)


A suspicious glance is being cast over the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, as the court seems bent upon convicting him for some of the crimes he has never committed. Witnesses have testified that people who are claimed to be killed by Iraqi leader are alive and well, writes FAISAL HASHMI

That the US-led coalition forces in Iraq have become an oppressive spectator is no longer a secret. Plagued by insurgency, human rights violations, economic decline and civil war, Iraq appears to have reached the point of disintegration. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein and seven of his aides are being tried before a tribunal for "crimes against humanity".

The trial seems nothing but a charade: defence witnesses are being killed while prosecution’s witnesses are publicly charged with accepting bribe. One of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers has been killed. Though he is no longer shouting in court, charges against him are proving to be hollow.

The trial of Saddam Hussein for massacre in Dujail, a predominantly Shia village 40 miles north of Baghdad, in 1982 is presided over by Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman. In Dujail, 148 people were killed in the wake of a failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein. During the proceedings, the prosecution lawyer Jafar Moosvi presented a witness, who resembled Moosvi himself. In fact, defence lawyers had submitted that all charges against Saddam Hussein were fictitious. They also maintained that Moosvi had been to Dujail two years ago to participate in the annual celebration of assassination bid on Saddam Hussein. They presented some evidence and witnesses in this respect.

The witnesses of the defence maintained that the number of people killed in Dujail was not 148. They said many of those claimed to be dead were still alive. Even one of the witnesses dared to ask the judge to come along with him to some of those claimed to be dead for dinner. The witness even submitted a list of several of the supposedly dead. However, the prosecution kept questioning the credibility of the claim and presented his look-alike, Abdul Aziz Bander, to refute the charge that he had participated in Dujail celebrations.

All these suggest the prosecutors are trying their best to implicate the former Iraqi president. But, these days Saddam Hussein is composed and calm in court. Perhaps he feels reassured that Iraqis are fed up with occupation and would continue resistance.

In his first appearance before court near Baghdad airport in 2004, Saddam Hussein had said to the judge, "I, Saddam Hussein al-Majid, am president of the Republic of Iraq". When the judge asked as to where did he live, he retorted, "I dwell in every home of Iraq".

During a 30-minute hearing, Saddam Hussein termed the trial a farce, which could help Bush win coming US presidential election. He said the real culprit was Bush. Even in later proceedings, he was angry. The moment he entered the court he chanted pro-insurgency slogans, "Long live Arab nation, long live mujahideen". In an argument with Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, he urged every Iraqi to fight in order to win independence.

The situation in Iraq shows many people are acting the way he likes rather than the way the US wants. Yet it is also a fact that Iraqis are fighting among themselves even more vehemently. Amid anarchy and bloodletting, all blames of massacres of Iraqis are being placed on US-led coalition forces. As many as 50 people die everyday. The personnel of coalition forces also figure among the dead. Lately, the American journal the Foreign Affairs has compared the Iraqi situation with Vietnam War.

In one of its recent editorials, the New York Times has painted a grim picture of Iraq and asked President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to take appropriate measures, or publicly admit that Iraq is a dead-end.

In the US, the popularity of President Bush is on the wane. Almost the same is true of Tony Blair. As many as 1,000 British soldiers deputed in Iraq have deserted. Yet, the British government is not able to find out the real cause of their desertion.

Iraq is being destroyed on an unprecedented scale. But, American as well as allied forces are somehow pulling on. Some analysts opine that failure of US programmes in Iraq has delayed the planned attack on Iran. However, Islamists are not satisfied. To them, Western powers have destroyed two great Muslim civilisations " Iraq and Afghanistan " on the pretext of stalking Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.g

(Adapted from Hindi)

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