Interesting article on the rumors and suggestions circulating about Saddam’s presumably upcoming trial. (Unintentionally and unpleasantly amusing quote of the day: “Saddam cannot have a fair trial at home. There are just too many who suffered under him.”)
When Saddam does go on trial, maybe they can pick up a few tips on how not to try a genocidal maniac from the ongoing Milosevic trial:
Prosecutors concluded their case against Milosevic last month, two years after his trial began in February 2002. Milosevic is to begin presenting his defense on June 8…. Milosevic has the right to challenge any replacement [judge]. That could delay the proceedings, which have already been going on for more than two years. He could even seek a retrial.
Beware the terrible swift sword of justice!by
So what do you think? Try him in Iraq, or ship him off to The Hague?
I’d vote for a trial in Iraq, for a few different reasons:
* Saddam is an Iraqi who committed most of his crimes in Iraq against the people of Iraq, and it just seems to make sense to try him there. I don’t buy the idea that nobody in Iraq is capable of objectively reviewing evidence and judging Saddam.
* There’s powerful symbolism in the free, constitutional government of Iraq dealing with its own past, and making a statement about what is and isn’t an acceptable form of Iraqi government.
* Hearing despotism and terror decisively and unquestionably condemned by a Middle Eastern nation (and not just by Western powers) would be an important moment for the entire region, which as we know has long been plagued by despotism.
* The UN willingly set aside its right to morally judge Saddam when it decided that his inhuman crimes didn’t merit forcible removal from office; thus the UN as a body should have no judicial role in the trial.
* No trial of Saddam is going to proceed without a great deal of melodrama, but a full-blown international UN trial runs a risk (in my mind) of being twisted into a referedum on the US’ foreign policy and not an actual just trial of Saddam for his actions. The disastrous soap opera that is the Milosevic case is also a good argument against such a trial.
Basically, I’d like to see a trial happen more or less along these lines: the trial is held in Iraq and overseen by an Iraqi judiciary. Anyone with a grievance against Saddam–starting with the people of Iraq, then the Coalition that removed him, then the UN–could then present their cases against Saddam. Saddam is judged by the Iraqi court and that’s it. International assistance is limited to helping secure and safeguard the trial and its participants or other basic helps that the Iraqi government may or may not yet be able to do for itself.
What do you think? Where and how would you have him tried?
I think they ought to try him by a war tribunal with judges from the represented coalition forces, just like they did to the Nazis. After all, Saddam’s crimes against his own people would constitute crimes against humanity, and he ought to be made to pay for it.
I have no confidence in the Hague whatsoever, and most of Europe is now totally dead-set against the very idea of capital punishment. I also don’t see why the U.N. or Europe should be allowed to interfere with this business since Poland, Spain, Japan and the United States were the ones who fought the war against this mass-murderer.
If they want to keep it nice and simple, they’ll hold a tribunal with judges from Poland Spain and the United States, give him a fair trial and then hang him.
I think a trial in Iraq would have the same result if the right people in Iraq were selected. Either way, so long as the guy gets put down like the dog he is, I’ll be happy. But that’s just my opinion…
Oh yeah–I forgot about the death penalty bit. Because (IMO) the only just outcome of such a trial is Saddam’s execution, he must be tried in a nation where the death penalty is an option.
I strongly agree with all the above comments, except to the extent that I would favor a trial by the new Iraqi government rather than coalition forces. It would be a test and/or demonstration of its legitimacy. I think it could demonstrate to the people the meaning of Due Process, even for heinous murderers. Assuming he’s found guilty and is hanged, it would also foster trust in the new government. If we tried him with an international tribunal, I think it could undermine the authority of the government and confirm in people’s minds that it’s just an American puppet. If the new Iraqi government is going to succeed, and allow us to leave, we’re going to have to trust it to do the right thing.