Monday, November 14, 2005

Saddam Trial Facing More Problems

Your one-stop shop for Saddam legal news comes through again. Another defense lawyer was assassinated last week -- albeit for one of his co-defendents, as in the first instance -- and everyone is miffed that no security is being provided. The trial will remain in Iraq, a decision I halfheartedly support as I wish without hope to move it to The Hague, but the prospect of appointing an entirely new defense team is being floated as if the Iraqi legal system is run by monkeys.

I don't understand why the U.S. doesn't think it's worth a little extra effort to keep these guys alive. After all, the legitimacy of a trial is slightly hampered when there's no defense counsel present. If we really decided to let the bad guy lawyers look after themselves, working under the premise that they're protected by the insurgents, then whoever made that call should be spanked down to Private and made to sing show tunes while he swabs a carrier deck. Maybe the next guy would think twice about undermining Bush's last chance to make the invasion look like a good idea. In fairness to the Marines, however, there's some question about whether we have tried to help and been rudely rebuffed. From the article:
If the court appoints new attorneys, Saddam will refuse to accept them and the trial will degenerate into "a total farce," Abdel-Haq Alani, a London-based lawyer who is a leading member of the defense team, told The Associated Press by phone.

"The trial would proceed in the absence of the defendant because the defendant would refuse to cooperate," Alani said. "They might as well sentence them without a trial."

Saddam and seven others went on trial Oct. 19 in the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims who were executed in 1982 after a failed assassination attempt against the Iraqi leader in Dujail, a Shiite town north of Baghdad. If convicted, they could be executed by hanging.

One day after the trial began, a defense lawyer was abducted from his office by 10 masked gunmen and his body was found the next day. A second defense lawyer was shot dead and another wounded in an ambush in Baghdad last Tuesday.

Government spokesman Laith Kubba said defense lawyers have twice turned down invitations to move to the Green Zone, where they could be protected by U.S. and other international troops. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani renewed that invitation last week.


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