Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

UN deplores Saddam trial

Philip Alston stated that there were “glaring flaws” in the process, adding that “the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein were tragically missed opportunities to demonstrate that justice can be done, even in the case of one of the greatest crooks of our time”.

Among the flaws mentioned w ere the 80 per cent turnover of judges, removed at will by the Government, the fact that the testimony of 23 prosecution witnesses was delivered without any right to questioning by the defence, the murder of three defence lawyers during the trial, and the more complex issue of an appeal system being relegated to a one-month formality. “This undue haste mocks the due process requirements of international law. The process to date has given the clear sense of a predetermined rush to execute rather than of a commitment to achieve justice,” stated Philip Alston.

Among the measures he suggested are the commutation of other death sentences to life imprisonment, the elimination of the Government’s powers to remove judges and the amendment of the 30-day period between trial and execution so as to allow for a full appeal process, which did not take place in Saddam Hussein’s case.

For Philip Alston, there were three major flaws in this case:

1. Serious irregularities denied Saddam Hussein a fair trial;

2. The Government was evidently committed towards a politically-motivated execution because it denied the right to a proper time period for a full appeal process and denied all calls for a review of the punishment;

3. The humiliating events at the execution itself were a clear violation of human rights.

For Philip Alston, Professor of Law at New York University, “The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment was violated when Saddam Hussein Al-Majeed was mocked by his executioners and then shown to the world by video as a morbid, public spectacle.”

While understanding that there is an urge for revenge, to perpetrate such practices only sends out the clear message that there is no rule of law in Iraq, stated the Special R apporteur.