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Do You Solemnly Swear...

Saddam Hussein’s trial is going to make OJ’s trial look like a slow day in traffic court.

Before the trial can even start, there’s the question of the court’s legitimacy. The International Red Cross contends that the trial will not be recognized unless it’s prosecuted by a sovereign Iraq - that is, an Iraq without a US occupation force. It will be interesting to see how, how soon, or even if, some kind of agreement can be reached. Would internationalizing Iraq’s internal security satisfy the requirement? Is legitimacy even an issue?

Another impediment is the death threats issued to Saddam's legal defense team by some really pissed off Iraqis,

In a videotape delivered to Reuters' Baghdad bureau in July, a masked gunman flanked by colleagues brandishing assault rifles and knives read a warning to 'all those who defend the cowardly criminal Saddam'. Declared the gunman: "We will sever your necks before you arrive."

And there has been some speculation that Prime Minister Allawi needs Saddam and his henchmen alive as hostages to ensure his own personal survival,

From the moment Allawi assumed office, he became a prime target for assassins. His murder would provide a short cut for the Iraqi Baath and Al-Qaeda seeking to topple the Iraqi administration... The insurgents will be given to understand that violence against the Prime Minister will be met with the fast trial and execution of a member of Saddam's 'dirty dozen'. It will therefore be in Saddam's vital interest to keep his successor in good health.

Collecting compelling evidence against Saddam has been slow. The looting of government offices after the fall of Baghdad destroyed or contaminated much of the documentary evidence that might have linked him to the atrocities committed under his presidency. Everyone "knows" Saddam gassed thousands of innocent people, but how do you prove it?

In response to a charge relating to the gassing to death at Halabja of some 5,000 Kurdish civilians in a single day, Saddam responded: "Yes, I heard about that." The obvious implication: His accusers should be looking for someone else.

Then there's the defense. Saddam is not going to just roll over. In fact, his defense team already has a master plan. They'll first push for Saddam's immediate release on bail. Then they'll contend that Saddam had "sovereign immunity" at the time, and everything he did was in the national interest - he was maintaining law and order.

And no deposed dictator's defense is complete without the sensational request to face his accusers. Expect Saddam to ask Bush and Blair to take the stand. "They can be compelled to testify!" Saddam's lawyer insists. "Failure to do so will invoke submissions from the defence of 'no case to answer.'" Seeing as how the UN - and by extension, most of the civilized world - views the Anglo/American invasion of Iraq as illegal, it will be interesting to see how that stunt plays out.

Prime Minister Allawi will attempt to have Iraq's legal system impose the death penalty. "The evidence against him is...overwhelming," Mr Allawi told reporters last month. "So we hope justice will be served... The death penalty has been restored in Iraq."

Saddam's defense team will try for exile "in some neutral country like Sweden, Austria or Switzerland." Failing that, they'll appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Hold on to your hats! Unless Allawi decides to just take Saddam out back and shoot him (my preference, BTW), it's going to be a wild ride.

Posted by American Pundit at October 20, 2004 6:17 AM