I was just on the BBC Radio a few minutes ago along with 2 other Jordanians. The question which emerged concerned the confession of Sajida Al-Rishawi in relation to her getting a fair trial.
Sajida will not be tried according to any Islamic laws (i.e. the Sharia courts) but rather the State Security court which typically handles cases involving sedition, armed insurrection, financial crimes, drug trafficking, and offenses against the royal family.
Defendants in the State Security Court have the right to appeal their sentences to the Court of Cassation, which is authorized to review issues of both fact and law.*
As I said in my previous report, in all probability this woman will be executed. As historic cases:
Ra’ed Muhammad Hijazi was sentenced to death by the State Security Court on charges of plotting to carry out terrorist activities and illegal production and possession of explosive materials.
Jamal Darwish Fatayer, a Palestinian born in Iraq, was convicted by the State Security Court on charges of involvement in the killing of Jordanian diplomat Na’ib ‘Umran al-Ma’aytah.
In both cases there are claims that confessions were extracted under torture. In both cases the State Security ruling was upheld by the Court of Cassation.
Now, I think it is very difficult to speak about fair trails, it is a tricky subject. It was argued that the confession on TV served no purpose but to undermine any chance of her getting a fair trial. I disagree with that point of view. It is easy to appear objective when one is speaking out of context, disconnected from the Arab street.
Personally I would prefer to think of this from the point of view of the people; what is in their best interest. After all, the victims here are a population of 5.7 million.
First, this isn’t an alleged bomber, this woman committed a crime. The only reason it wasn’t implemented was not because she grew a conscience over night and had second thoughts upon seeing children at a wedding, but because of a technical malfunction. Had security forces not captured her there’s a big chance she would’ve tried it again.
Second, the reason she was put on the air so quickly was for the sake of the masses. It was a way of calming the public and quelling any fears, insecurities or violent uproar. Notably protests seem to be getting less and less angry and emotional as they were in the first two days. People need relief, they need to see that state security is back on its feet doing its job, they need to feel a sense of justice and accountability for a crime. A face needs to be put to a crime.
Third, I have to ask myself had the UK or the U.S. or Spain captured any one related to their respective terrorist events how would the public feel? Would they air a confession on the air? Would they get a fair trail?
Do prisoners in Guantanamo bay get fair trails?
Do they get fair trails in Abu Ghrieb?
Is Saddam’s trial considered fair?
A Fair Trail is a tricky and complex concept that one cannot easily judge when attempting to be objective. These trials that involve a crime that captures the emotions, anger and sadness of a whole nation; a crime committed against a people as a whole, these trials are anything but objective. Whether they take place in Amman or in New York, the sentence would most likely be the same.
Personally, I do not think she should get the death penalty. Death after all is not a punishment for a person who was willing to die in the first place whilst taking as many people as she could with her. Personally I think she should be made to watch home videos and photo album slideshows of every victim over and over again; their complete documented lives in re-run. Or at the least she should be re-educated in Islam like many prisoners have been since post 911.