Monday, December 12, 2005
Saddam Trial IV
As everyone knows Saddam did not show up for his own criminal trial on Wednesday. Well, actually, he did show up, he did "participate in an unjust court": he had to go to court to make a written and verbal request of the judge to be excused. The judges met privately with Saddam and his attorney's and declared that they chose to not to require the defendant's presence in court based "on law".
Judge Juhi says:
Chief prosecutor Jafar Moussawi said:
In other words, Iraqi law apparently permits an Iraqi to opt out of attending his own trial. Whatever. I'm not an expert on Iraqi law (but then neither is Ramsey Clark), but I find that incredulous. I find myself saying what most Iraqis say when they watch this trial: It is certainly hard for me to imagine such a request being imaginable in Saddam's 35 year government.
However, I definitely think that the judges should somehow hold Saddam's legal team accountable for what they are saying about the court in the Arab press:
Incidentally, when saying the name "Judge Juhi", does anyone else think of "Judge Judy"? That's who I think we need running this trial.
Iowahawk let Zarqawi blog at his site. His blog was entitle I Hate My Boss:
So I guess you could say that everybody was pretty jazzed last week when big bossman Zawahiri sent out a memo announcing casual Fridays and a special ‘R&R event.’
Well yeah, okay, normally the Zarkman is cool with a little downtime. Chance to catch up on the email and paperwork and all that, especially since I’ve got like three months of travel expenses that Fatima (wife #3, the fat one) has been all over my ass to file. Anyway, I’m in the middle of Xeroxing some ammonia nitrate receipts Friday morning, thinking about what I needed to pack for the weekend family trip to Damascus, when I get another memo:
From: A. al-Zawahiri
To: All Associates
Subject: Mandatory Weekend Retreat
Oh fucking terrific. I popped my head up over my cubicle to see if Khalid had read it yet, and he just sorta looks up at me and rolls his one good eye.
Inspired, Nadz let Saddam guest blog at her site recently:
What kind of crappy trial is this? Where's the rack, the electric baton and the whips? How the hell can you expect to interrogate a witness without these basic essentials. I therefore demand to be tried under my laws, with my methods and my kind of execution. This is my Iraq, baby - let's get out the finger screws. Wait, did I just say that? Lies, lies, contemptible lies.
Eight-year-old, Karim Salam, was abducted by gunmen last Tuesday as he played in front of his parent's house. His father, Salam Hirmiz Gorgis, works as a bodyguard for one of the judges in Saddam's trial.
His top lawyers right now are Ramzi Clark and Najeeb al-Nauimi.
(Yes, I know the spelling is "Ramsey" but I like the way the Iraqi bloggers tend to spell it.)
Christopher Hitchens recently reviewed Ramzi's career history:
Clark used to be Lyndon Johnson's attorney general and in that capacity tried to send Dr. Benjamin Spock, Marcus Raskin, and others to jail for their advocacy of resistance to the war in Vietnam. (In a bizarre 2002 interview in the Washington Post, he took the view that he was still right to have attempted this, even though the defendants were all eventually exonerated.)
Interesting. When he had the power, he persecuted people for speaking their opinions...for basically doing what he has done since before and after Iraq was liberated (except I don't think any of them were actually taking money from the North Vietnamese to do so). Now, he defends those who crush individual liberty. I'd say that's perfectly consistent.
From bullying prosecutor he mutated into vagrant and floating defense counsel, offering himself to the génocideurs of Rwanda and to Slobodan Milosevic, and using up the spare time in apologetics for North Korea. He acts as front-man for the Workers World Party, an especially venomous little Communist sect, which originated in a defense of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.
The Worker's World Party, friend of Castro and the Iranian Mullahs, organized the anti-US/Pro-tyranny demonstration in Washington DC this summer.
In a recent BBC interview, he offered the excuse that Iraq was then fighting
the Shiite nation of Iran:
He (Saddam) had this huge war going on, and you have to act firmly when you have an assassination attempt.
Just go back and read that again. Ramsey Clark believes that A) the massacre and torture did occur and B) that it was ordered by his client and C) that he was justified in ordering it and carrying it out.
There ya go. That's a defense that I could just about be convinced that Ramzi himself believes in his heart.
Saddam's other attorney is Najeeb al-Nauimi. Mohammed at Iraq the Model had analysis of his defense strategy.
One sentence from the Qatari lawyer was enough to show that he was very far from reality, that was when he spoke of “five million children who died because of the sanctions). I really don’t know where he got this number from but what I know is that his language was a lot similar to Saddam’s who invested the death of Iraqi children to get compassion from the world while he was destroying whole shipments of milk, food and medicine or worse re-exporting to make bloody profits for himself.
The Iraqi bloggers didn't have much to say about Wednesday's proceedings. Without Saddam there, it doesn't seem to have attracted the same interest. That's another reason to insist that Saddam show up in court. Anyway, the lack of attention to the trial in Iraq and world wide is unfortunate because there was some more very interesting witness testimony.
There were two witnessess that day: Witness W, who was a young teen at the time and a woman who was also a teenager when she was arrested. There do not seem to be any reported details of the female witness's testimony.
Since there is currently no translated transcript of the trials, I gleaned the the following quotes from these sources: MercuryNews.com, CentralChronicle.com, San Mateo Daily Journal, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette,
He was a boy at the time. He was "arrested in Dujail and taken to Baghdad. He was interrogated in what he described as a red room with bright lights. " He said there were people "screaming because of the beatings".
"When my turn came, the investigator asked me my name and he turned to [a man] and asked him, `What shall we do with him?' [The man] said, `Take him. He might be useful.' We were almost dead because of the beatings." Witness 1 said that someone standing next to him in Dujail told him that this was Barazan al-Tikriti.
He was then moved to Abu Ghraib prison in a "in a closed crowded van that had no windows", where he was deprived of sleep and beaten at the mere mention of a toothache.
"When we arrived at the building they asked us to stand along the wall," he said. "We were told to stand only on one foot and we were kept in this position for two hours before we were taken to cells with red walls. I was thirsty but the water was very hot." After a few days, the witness said, he was moved to "Hall 63" where "we were kept handcuffed for five days with little food and very hot water. They used to take some persons and bring them back naked. The signs of torture were clear on their bodies".
He "was confined for 1 1/2 years at Abu Ghraib said that an intelligence agent visited him during his detention and promised that his suffering would end. “Don’t worry. Your execution is very near. I will kill you myself, with this pistol,” the agent said.
Eventually he was sent to the desert, where he and others lived in a tent with a television. They gathered wood, drank red dirty water from a well and suffered beatings."
The Defendents' Response
Taha Yassin Ramadan (former Vice-President of Iraq):
"As of yesterday, all the witnesses didn't mention my name. Do they have any witnesses? Witnesses that saw me? I can prove I did not attend all the places."
I suppose that depends on what the duties of the Iraqi VP are. Did he have responsibilities? His best defense seems to be to claim that he had no duties in Saddam's murderous regime.
Barzan al-Tikriti (former head of Intelligence)
"I went to Dujail because I was the head of intelligence at that time. I was responsible for security of the president, so it was my duty to go there and see what was happening."
Which he did. And then he coordinated the arrest, torture, and/or execution of almost every man, woman, and child in the town...which was also his "job".
"He compared his own treatment in prison to the treatment of the witnesses. He told the court that he lived in an isolated, windowless cell for nine months with no electricity or running water. He was given cold food and the cheapest brand of cigarettes, and when he refused to do required exercise, he was not given tea, coffee or cigarettes.
"We were detained by one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet it was only after four months in detention that they gave me cigarettes. And then they were of the worst quality in the world."
"When I was detained I was wearing pajamas that I kept wearing for nine months until my brother came and gave me a dishdasha."
“Talking about lack of food. We have been experiencing the same thing. I lost 18 kilos! The food given to us is of very bad quality. As for the exercise, for nine months I was in a solitary prison cell two meters by two meters. There is no window, no electricity, not even a door. I didn’t know night from day. There was no shower, no water, no tea, no nothing.”
“This is America doing this – the great America. America, Iraq, prisons are all the same.”