An interesting article by Pepe Escobar in the Asian Times, dives into the details behind Saddam’s trial.
The court, the training and the whole proceedings cost US$75 million – courtesy of US taxpayers (the budget was allocated in May 2004). About 300 people – paid by the Americans – work on the trial machinery. The five “secret” Iraqi judges – Shi’ites and Kurds, no Sunnis – are paid by the Americans, live inside the Green Zone and are protected by the Americans from being kidnapped or killed.
They have received special training from US, British and Australian legal experts and have even staged a mock trial in London. They are supposed to be “independent” in a country on which “the United States continues to wield vast influence”, according to the understated Associated Press. Human Rights Watch has warned on the record that the trial may be “violating international standards for fair trials”.
Escobar is refering to a Human Rights Watch briefing concerning the trials. From HRW…
Ã¢??For nearly two decades, we have called for Saddam Hussein and his henchmen to be brought to justice,Ã¢?Â said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program, who is leading a team of trial observers in Baghdad. Ã¢??We have grave concerns that the court will not ensure fair trials. To ensure justice and its own legitimacy, the court must fix these deficiencies.Ã¢?Â
In an 18-page briefing paper released last week, Human Rights Watch highlighted concerns that the tribunal is at risk of violating basic fair-trial guarantees.
Problems with the tribunal and its statute include:
Ã¢?Â¢ No requirement to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Ã¢?Â¢ Inadequate protections for the accused to mount a defense on conditions equal to those enjoyed by the prosecution.
Ã¢?Â¢ Disputes among Iraqi political factions over control of the court, jeopardizing its appearance of impartiality.
Ã¢?Â¢ A draconian requirement that prohibits commutation of death sentences by any Iraqi official, including the president, and compels execution of the defendant within 30 days of a final judgment.