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Saddam Hussein's Execution Is a War Crime
[Opinion] Human rights groups express concerns about fairness of trial
Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-30 17:24 (KST)   
The Iraqi state-owned Al Iraqiya station reports that former head of state, Saddam Hussein was killed before dawn on Dec. 30.

In an earlier article, I spoke about how Saddam Hussein was a prisoner of war and about how, as a prisoner of war, he was entitled to fair and humane treatment as well as protection from summary execution.

None of these things happened. Instead the U.S. forces who are an invading and occupying force in Iraq, handed him over for trial by an Iraqi government whose legitimacy is questionable.

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Human Rights Watch says, in itself, the former Iraqi leader's trial was deeply flawed.

In its November 2006 report, "Judging Dujail: The First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal," Human Rights Watch identified serious flaws which included failure by prosecutors to reveal key information to Saddam Hussein's defense team -- denying him the right to cross-examine witnesses -- and the presiding Judges' own alleged bias.

Saddam Hussein's defense team was also only allowed two weeks, instead of 30 days, in which to read and respond to the trial judgment and when they did file an appeal against the sentence, it took the Iraqi Appeals Chamber less than 21 days to quash the appeal.

Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program said: "It defies imagination that the Appeals Chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defense's written arguments in less than three weeks' time."

He described the appeals process as "even more flawed than the trial."

Human Rights Watch is not alone in its condemnation of the process that led to Saddam Hussein's execution.

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme said Saddam Hussein's trial violated the former head of state's right to a fair trial.

"This trial should have been a major contribution towards establishing justice and the rule of law in Iraq, and in ensuring truth and accountability for the massive human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's rule. In practice, it has been a shabby affair, marred by serious flaws that call into question the capacity of the tribunal, as currently established, to administer justice fairly, in conformity with international standards," Malcom Smart said.

The Bush administration could still have stopped the Iraqi government from executing Saddam Hussein because U.S. troops were guarding him right up to the time of his execution.

It is unclear what the Iraqi government is trying to achieve by executing Saddam Hussein. It is also unclear what the Bush administration is trying to achieve by allowing this to happen.

One of the things that has happened is that the two parties have turned Saddam Hussein into a martyr and that now, more than at any other time, during the conflict in Iraq, Saddam Hussein will more actively inspire militants to fight against occupation forces as well as the present Iraqi government and any similar governments.

Another thing that has happened is that in executing, facilitating and allowing Saddam Hussein to be executed, the Bush administration, together with the present Iraqi government have committed a war crime. They have violated the rules of war which, among other things, prohibit the ill-treatment, execution of, or use of capital punishment on prisoners of war.
Do you think Saddam Hussein's execution was justified?  (2006-12-31 ~ 2007-01-24)
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©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ambrose Musiyiwa

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