International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 12, 2004

July 12, 2004





** Global dailies characterize Saddam’s trial as a "litmus test" for post-Saddam Iraq.

** Writers insist on steps to ensure the proceedings' legitimacy.

** Death penalty opponents fear executing Saddam would make him a "martyr."

** Trying a re-energized Saddam could open "a Pandora’s box of problems."




'A litmus test for the new Iraq'--  Global papers maintained that handing over the "tyrant from Tikrit" to the Iraqi interim government for trial "symbolizes the end of an era."  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post deemed the trial a “necessary part of the country’s process of reconciliation and rebuilding."  France’s left-of-center Liberation stated, "the way Saddam will be treated will serve as a test of the type of regime Iraq will enjoy in the future."  Though some papers argued the transfer of Saddam to Iraqi justice demonstrated Iraqi autonomy, Arab dailies contended the interim government remains "obedient to the U.S. administration."


'Concern for legitimacy'--  Outlets called on the Iraqi government to provide a fair and "transparent" trial for the former dictator, though they differed on what would constitute a legitimate proceeding.  Britain’s center-left Independent hoped for "punctilious observance of judicial proprieties."  Supporters of an international tribunal argued an Iraqi-based trial would be tainted by the years of repression from the defendant’s regime.  Arab and African papers questioned whether the "propaganda value that Saddam represents for Bush’s re-election" is the real motive behind the timing of the trial.  Analysts promoting an Iraqi-based proceeding stated that the ICC exists "to enforce international law when others cannot" or choose not to, advocating that the interim government appointed court is capable of performing its duties. 


Restoration of death penalty 'does not bode well for the future'--  Several dailies found the re-institution of the death penalty by the Allawi government "a pre-determined verdict" that called into question the trial's impartiality.  Death penalty opponents asserted that this "primitive judicial practice"  had the potential to "backlash," given that "such executions create martyrs."   Re-instating the practice "that no statesman can defend" has put Iraq off to a rocky start.  "Saddam the dictator was bad enough," observed Britain’s left-of center Daily Express; "Saddam the martyr could prove an even more explosive figure."


'Obstacles to overcome'--  Writers speculated that an "assertive" and "self-confident" Saddam could challenge the "indictment with political discourses and bravado, in an attempt to galvanize the Arab world.”  Iraq's independent Al-Mashriq criticized the judge's "immaturity" and qualifications for presiding over the pre-trial hearing.  He "allowed Saddam to appear strong, while it should have shown him frail, repentant, and dejected."  Some papers expected the defendant to embarass the coalition by detailing American, French, and Russian support during the Iran-Iraq war.


EDITOR:  Daniel Macri


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 85 reports from 39 countries June 30 - July 8, 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Iraq Will Find Catharsis In The Trial Of Saddam"


The conservative Daily Telegraph wrote (7/2):  "Both within the special tribunal and the security forces, Iraqis will find their own way of healing the scars of Baathist dictatorship and foreign occupation.  That, after all, is what sovereignty means."


"Saddam's Reckoning"


The independent Financial Times held (7/2):  "This will be a drawn-out process, which will command popular acceptance only if it is carried out by Iraqis.  A full reckoning also demands the airing of U.S. and western collusion with the Iraqi dictatorship over decades....  For the new interim government of Iyad Allawi, the challenge is to make sure this process is one of justice rather than revenge."


"The Real Trial Lies Ahead"


The left-of-center Guardian opined (7/2):  "Only a genuine and transparent process, legitimized under a genuinely independent government, will secure a more unified response to heal rather than divide the nation."


"Saddam As Symbol"


The conservative Times opined (7/1):  "The conduct of these proceedings will do much to shape the image of Iraq's new government in the international community....  If due process is meticulously observed, under arrangements that are strictly fair, Iraq will be much the better for the experience.  This would be justice as truth in action.  John Locke's sage observation that, 'wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins' might be reversed spectacularly."


"The Conduct Of This Trial Will Determine What Sort Of State Iraq Will Become"


The center-left Independent maintained (7/1):  "The Iraqi prime minister, for his part, can use the handover of Saddam Hussein to claim that his interim government is no U.S. puppet, but wields real authority....  How Saddam Hussein is treated will say much about the sort of state that Iraq is likely to become.  Punctilious observance of judicial proprieties would be the best augury for a stable and law-governed Iraq in the future."


"Death Penalty May Only Make A Martyr Of Dictator Saddam"


The left-of-center tabloid Daily Express maintained (7/1):  "Given the mess the coalition has made of the aftermath of the war, it has been easy to forget that one indisputable good has come of it:  Saddam, a brutal dictator who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own countrymen, has been toppled from power and will now stand trial for his crimes....  Saddam must stand trial but it should be a fair trial and the consequences of using the death penalty should be carefully thought through.  Saddam the dictator was bad enough: Saddam the martyr could prove an even more explosive figure."


FRANCE:  "A New Iraq Is Emerging"  


Joseph Maila wrote in Catholic La Croix (7/8):  "The U.S. remains in Iraq and will continue to control the country.  Is this transfer then a virtual transfer?  No, because this is a real opportunity for the Iraqi people to become united and to affirm its will....  The new Iraq must still earn its independence.  Somewhere between legal fiction and political reality, the Iraqi society has this new opportunity to build its own future....  The trial of Saddam Hussein will be a true test.  Vengeance must not replace the desire to know the truth:  the mistakes of a dictatorship must not give way to a democracy that isn’t.”




Patrick Sabatier opined in left-of-center Liberation (7/2):  “No one believes that Saddam Hussein can be tried in Baghdad for his many crimes and receive the guarantees that the right of law conveys to any criminal in any other country.  These criminals are presumed to be innocent.  No one has any doubt about Saddam Hussein’s guilt.  Generally, judges act in the name of the people, whereas in this instance the judges have been designated by a non-elected entity, put in place by the occupier.  As for the witnesses, they will have to deal with the terror which Saddam’s partisans can still instill.  Saddam Hussein is therefore not totally wrong when he talks of his trial as theater....  It may have been better if the tyrant had been tried by an international court of justice.  But behind his trial there are other things at stake, besides rendering justice.  The trial aims to prove that a change of regime has taken place in Iraq, and that the new government has power.  The new government hopes to boost its popularity in the eyes of a majority of Iraqis who were victims of Saddam’s dictatorship.  By adhering to the right of law, the new government and the trial run the risk of offering a platform to the accused.  The way Saddam will be treated will serve as a test of the type of regime Iraq will enjoy in the future.  But only once we accept the notion that war and justice never go hand in hand.”


"A Trial And Many Questions"


Georges Malbrunot opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/2):  “This trial, especially if it stretches into the future, could have a reverse effect of the one hoped for by the Americans and the Iraqis, which is to re-enforce national unity.  The trial could create a wider gap between the different components of Iraqi society.  Saddam Hussein continues to enjoy the support of the Sunni minority, and all the more so because this minority has been marginalized by the Americans since the beginning of the war.  The media coverage which Saddam Hussein will enjoy will also revive a certain feeling of nostalgia among those who regret the sense of security that prevailed during Saddam’s regime, although they have no sympathy for the man himself.”


"Iraq Takes Over"


Jacques Amalric noted in left-of-center Liberation (7/1):  “In his tribute to Iraq’s new strongmen, President Bush was almost pushing for martial law in Iraq.  In truth this is the only law which the Iraqi leaders can pass.  For the rest they will have to abide by the constitution laboriously implemented by Paul Bremer....  This gives a realistic picture of how much sovereignty Washington is ready to grant the Iraqi government....  The amount of sovereignty (granted to the Iraqis) appears to be broad when it comes to form, much less when it comes to content....  In the short term, the method adopted in Iraq can bring back some sort of calm....  But in the longer term, it can be fatal for the central government, triggering clashes as well as a civil war....  A perverse relationship with Washington will emerge, with the Iraqi government always on the lookout to prove it is not under orders from Washington.  And the nature of the reconstruction will also have to change, in order for the Iraqis to profit from it, as opposed to American companies being the only ones to gain from it.”


GERMANY:  "Better For The ICC"


Center-right Maerkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the Oder editorialized (7/3):  "Saddam Hussein would have been an almost ideal case for the ICC....  Under the current conditions in Iraq, a trial according to the rule of law is hardly possible.  It has the taste of revenge.  It may be that the trial against Saddam represents a certain diffuse feeling of historic justice, but it will certainly not become a highlight of the history of the law."


"Saddam Trial"


Right-of-center Hamburger Abendblatt noted (7/2):  "The tyrant from Tikrit, who presented himself in a terrifyingly unremorseful way, belongs to the cruel league of mega-murderer of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot's type.  Against the background of infinite suffering, the Saddam trial can never do justice to the claim of atonement.  But the legal processing of his rule is an indispensable precondition for a true new beginning in Iraq.  Thousands of those who still are his supporters, who are inaccessible to reason must finally recognize that Saddam Hussein was no 'hero of the Arabs,' but an unscrupulous egomaniac, whose greed for power lead to the death of many fellow Iraqis and brothers-in-faith."


"Baghdad Opening"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/2):  "We can expect Saddam Hussein to appear in a self-assertive and self-confident manner before the judge.  It corresponds to his character, but it will be of no use to him.  The same is true for the eleven defendants from his former clique....  Even those who have good reason to reject the U.S.-led war against Iraq...must admit that Saddam and his accomplices would still sit in their chairs and continued their despotic crimes without this intervention....  The Iraqi people now have the chance to reprocess a bloody past...but a precondition is that even a man like the ousted Iraqi president gets a fair trial.  This includes Iraqis, not Americans, sitting in judgment on him.  The trial will become difficult anyway...since the defendant will reveal information from the school of power politics to which the Americans contributed considerably.  Saddam Hussein rose high and fell deep.  Those who followed his career know that he will defend himself with great skill and perseverance that he will pin his hopes on those people in Iraq who still follow him."


"Saddam's Judges"


Peter Muench opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/2):  "Saddam is in the dock and this creates satisfaction for millions of people in Iraq and in neighboring Iran and Kuwait, which also suffered from his cruel regime.  The defendant will certainly not make it easy for the court to do its job, as incriminating as the evidence may ever be....  It is a truism that this trial is a litmus test for the new Iraq.  The chance this may offer would be missed if [the court] were fixated to a quick judgment and its execution.  It is not a very good omen that the new Iraqi government, as its first measure, re-introduced the death penalty.  And we must fear a lack of transparency since we got only images with no sound from the beginning of the hearing.  The impression should be avoided right from the start that something could be suppressed.  The Iraqi past must be reprocessed in public."


"Saddam's Silence"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg argued (7/2):  "Saddam's appearance before the court leaves doubts that the trial will meet all expectations, since Iraqi justice authorities had eliminated the audio....  To put it differently:  a censorship took place.  The beginning of the trial could hardly have been more unfortunate....  The trial is taking place under difficult conditions.  A democratically elected government did not install the special tribunal.  In addition, it is questionable how independently the judges will act and to what extent they are familiar with the rule of law...."


"Before The Judge"


Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (7/2):  "With the beginning of the Saddam trial, the government wants to show that Iraq will develop as quickly as possible to a country with the rule of law.  It is one thing to stress noble ambitions, but another to implement it....  The quick re-introduction of the death in a fix.  On the one hand, it must convey in a credible way to the Iraqis that Saddam and his minions will be punished.  On the other hand, Saddam still has a considerable number of supporters for whom violence is everything but an unknown term.  If the former president used yesterday's hearing as an opportunity to launch tirades of hatred against Americans and Kuwaitis...then he also intends to mobilize his supporters.  That is why the judges must avoid any impression of their activities being based on revenge."


"In The Time Machine"


Clemens Wergin concluded in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/1):  "The trial against Saddam has several tasks to fulfill.  It can, like the Truth Commission in South Africa, set in motion a social debate over the crimes of the past.  The trial, which is likely to be opened in a few months, is also a test whether the new Iraq can guarantee a legal and fair trial.  And finally, the TV broadcasts from the courtroom will have an effect on the region.  It is true that a very brutal Arab ruler stands trial, but many of his methods are also applied in other Arab countries.  When seeing Saddam in the dock, the Assads, Mubaraks, Qadhafis, and Abdullahs will certainly get an uncomfortable feeling....  In Iraq, the Americans made many mistakes, but we owe it to them that the worst of all Arab despots must now answer to the courts for his crimes.  It is now up to the Iraqis to make the best out of it."


"In The Name Of The People"


Stephan Speicher stressed in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (7/1):  "The beginning of the trial shows that nobody stands above the law...but the Iraqi court that will rule over Saddam and his helpers, is suspected of exercising winner's justice....  Nobody dares to predict whether this will also be the case in the Saddam trial....  The value of the Saddam trial will be based on informing the Iraqi society on his crimes.  If it is an honest trial, the Iraqis will learn what happened, who did what, or tolerated and exploited which crime.  And in this context, the West will not appear as an angel either....  The trial against Saddam must be an Iraqi cause.  Iraqis had to bear his rule, they cooperated and made sacrifices, and their society must now come to terms with the circumstances that come along with such a dictatorship.  A successful trial will not only pronounce the defendant guilty or innocent, but it will also create legal peace of society....  It will confirm the rule of the law and this means confidence in a society whose members are equal and subjected to the same principles."


ITALY:  "Tehran Knocks On The Door Of Saddam’s Trial"


Mimmo Candito noted in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (7/5):  “As could be predicted, Saddam’s trial could easily be transformed into a devastating opening of Pandora’s box.  In fact, winds and storms are extending way beyond the shores of the Shatt al-Arab to the White House's Oval Office, and into Bush’s hopes for re-election....  The re-establishment of a balance of power in the Gulf, after the American war disrupted the old order, cannot ignore that regardless of the final solution, it must also go through Tehran....  Iran has an absolute need to reaffirm its supremacy with the Shiites, in order to hinder the reformist opposition....  The game is much more complicated than a simple semi-clandestine transfer of power that took place one morning in late June.”


"The Dictator And The Iraqi Judge"


Magdi Allam opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (7/3):  “In an Arab world where leaders reign an entire lifetime or until they are forced to step down...the image of Saddam Hussein before a young Iraqi judge symbolizes the end of an era....  We could be a step away from a deep cathartic process of emancipation in the Iraqi way of thinking and being, and in some way in that of the other Arabs.  Arab leaders can see a reflection of themselves in the Saddam that appears in a courtroom, just as the Arab people can identify with the young Iraqi judge.  This is why it is vitally important for Saddam’s trial be held in Iraq, before an Iraqi court; that is public and broadcast live in Arabic....  This way we will ensure justice is brought to history’s most ferocious dictators....  Only in this way can the Arab world in its entirety, which has until now been the impermeable ‘gray area’ for freedom and democracy, become fully part, not only in trade issues but also regarding human rights, of a global world.”


"Powell:  'Saddam?  Presumed Innocent'"


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote in pro-government leading center-right daily Il Giornale (7/3):  "Saddam Hussein is to be presumed innocent until a verdict states he is guilty.  Secretary of State Colin Powell commented on the opening of the trial is these terms....  This is the U.S.’s official reaction to the beginning of a process that the American government wanted--first by invading Iraq to topple the regime, then by hunting down the ousted dictator, and now by handing him over to Baghdad authorities.  America and its administration expect a lot from this trial--to consolidate democracy in Iraq (as in all of the Middle East), and naturally are also looking for positive affects on U.S. public opinion (which Bush needs in order to be re-elected)....  It is fundamental that the rules are observed in order for the United States to attempt to regain the favor of the Arab world and particularly Iraq.”


"The Era Of Virtual Reality"


Furio Colombo stated in pro-democratic left L’Unità (7/1):  "Yesterday Saddam Hussein was 'handed over' to the Iraqi authorities.  We were told that he appeared before the judges.  This isn’t true.  A person that we’re told is the judge went on television to tell the story....  It’s a new type of reality show.  Someone from a closed room tells you what is happening in another closed room that you will never see and you have to believe him.  You have to because reality ends there.  There is no proof, no verification--nothing else.”


RUSSIA:  "Saddam Turned Over To Iraqis"


Yulia Petrovskaya said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/1):  "Yesterday the ex-dictator and eleven of his close associates were formally placed under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi authorities.  This is one in a series of moves attesting to the end of the U.S.-led occupation.  Saddam will be charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes....  In Iran, because the U.S. supported Baghdad, many believe that the U.S. is in part responsible for the crimes committed during the Iran-Iraq war.  As for Kuwait, there is evidence that Saddam attacked that country with silent consent from the U.S."


"It's Hard To Believe"


Georgiy Stepanov observed in reformist Izvestiya (7/1):  "Iraqis can't believe this is possible.  It is unheard-of in their country's history.  'Czar and God' Saddam Hussein, the sole master of the land, who ruled for decades will stand trial, answering for everything he did."


AUSTRIA:  "Justice, Not Revenge"


Walter Friedl commented in mass-circulation Kurier (7/1):  "Although it is perfectly understandable that many people in Iraq want to see Saddam Hussein dead, it is not acceptable.  The former dictator's fate should be determined by justice, not revenge....  The fact that Iraqi judges are charge of the trial casts some doubt on the proceedings' fairness.  Are they competent enough to handle such a complex case, after all those years of isolation?  Can we rule out that they may get carried away by some kind of 'justice of victory'?...  It is obvious that the new Iraqi government wants to be the one to hold the former regime accountable and thus mark the beginning of a new era.  Still, Saddam Hussein's trial would be a classic case for an international tribunal."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Proof Of Independence"


Radek Honzak remarked in center-right Lidove noviny (7/1):  "There are not many people who have been able to accomplish such a clear-cut entry to office as Iyad Allawi has.  The handing over of Saddam Hussein and the other eleven prominent former Iraqi officials to Iraqi justice is proof of the government's independence....  The symbolic value of this step is very important to Allawi confirming his power and independent competence.  Besides this, the trial of Saddam will be clear evidence of the reestablishment of law and order in the country....  It gives hope that Saddam will not be seen as the martyr but as the criminal he is."


HUNGARY:  "Waiting To See"


Prestigious Hungarian business/political weekly HVG (7/8) writes:  "Saddam’s trial has some problems.  Most probably it won’t be very easy to prove the charges against the former dictator, in which case the claim against the court’s final ruling, expected to be a death sentence, will be that it rests on doubtful and inaccurate evidences and testimonies.  The current panel, the Iraqi special court,  is far from being an independent body.  The government that established it in December last year was set up by the United States.  The lawyers, who help collect evidences and search mass graves are also American.  So the question is this: how much influence will the Americans have in the entire trial?" 


NORWAY:  "Saddam Before The Court"


The centrist party paper Nationen commented (7/5):  "There is reason to fear that Saddam will not receive the guaranteed rights and objective trial that he himself refused his citizens and that the case can end with the death penalty.  Many Iraqis will support such a punishment, but it will a setback for international law....  The new Iraqi government and the U.S. have a common interest in turning the process against Saddam into a propaganda exhibit that can justify the invasion.  It is an especially bad sign that Iraq has reintroduced the death penalty.  It is not expected that this shall meet with opposition from the U.S. with a President who has governed a state with executions on a regular basis.  But the protests from the rest of the world have been disappointingly weak."


"The Prisoner In A Cheap Suit"


Jan E. Hansen commented in the newspaper of record Aftenposten (7/4):  "[Saddam] knows that the reintroduction of the death penalty in the new Iraq is more than stage play....  The death penalty is a primitive judicial practice, a fatal injustice, that no statesman can defend on a cultured level.  The attempt to build democratic conditions in Iraq is morally and judicially dependent both on the reckoning with Saddam's regime and a type of judicial system that doesn't further promote the death penalty." 


POLAND:  "Iraqis Regain Their Dignity"


Bogumil Luft commented in centrist Rzeczpospolita (7/2):  “If Iraq is to become a democratic state, a decent sovereign trial of Saddam and his comrades will contribute.  We must not forget the criminality of his dictatorship.  Its history includes two aggressive wars with its neighbors, massacres of the Shiites and the Kurds--by means of chemical weapons--and the murders of his political opponents and citizens.  Since the Iraqis did not oust Saddam with their own hands, it will be good for them to try him on their own, thus reckoning with their past.  This will help them regain a sense of dignity.”


TURKEY:  "Even Dictators Need Law"


Ali Sirmen commented in the social democrat-opinion maker Cumhuriyet  (7/6):  “The trial of Saddam causes us to think about the definition of law.  Every discipline and every legal system does not necessarily make a lawful society, unless each piece of the legal frame complies with the rules of international law and order.  The same rule applies to courts that try dictators.  Any court under the supervision of an occupying force suffers from the absence of legitimacy.  Even the trial of a dictator does not make an exception to this rule.  The Iraqi court is asking Saddam about the Halabja massacre.  What about those who provided chemical weapons to Saddam?  Who is going to sue them?...  In short, the court case in Baghdad represents a mockery of justice.  On the other hand, even this comedy does not mitigate the fact that Saddam is a brutal dictator and a murderer.  Any irregularity in the legal process for Saddam’s trial will become a model for the future of the Iraqi regime.  This trial must not be allowed to turn into an exercise in historic revenge.  A vindictive process outside the proper legal framework might end up turning a bloody dictator into a martyr or a hero in the mind of the public.  Unfortunately, this appears to be happening in the case of Saddam.”


"The Trial Of Saddam"


Turgut Tarhanli wrote in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (7/6):  “The court in Iraq has the authority to sentence Saddam Hussein to death.  Therefore, it is vitally important that the Iraqi court obeys international human rights standards without exception.  Take the similar cases in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  Those who were held responsible for genocide and other violations of human rights did not face death sentences because of international legal standards.  These two cases are also regarded as examples for other cases that fall within the context of international human rights.  The Iraq case seems to be an effort to establish an exception to this international trend.  This is probably the reason that an international court was not established for the trial of Saddam.  It seems that the process in the trial of Saddam ignores a basic rule--legitimate justice must be supported by commonly held tenets of fairness.”




IRAQ:  "Lack Of Judge’s Qualifications"


Baghdad's Al-Mashriq  independent daily remarked (7/3):  "The examination of Saddam was not successful from the technical or propaganda aspect. In fact, it produced negative results for those who wanted to cut Saddam down to size, humiliate him, and show him as a flustered defendant who sees the hanging rope getting closer to his neck....  We don't want to give an opinion on Saddam's fate, since this is a subject that must be decided by the court, which will issue the right decision against him.  But, what concerns us here is that the trial served Saddam more than it hurt him.  It showed him strong, while it should have shown him frail, repentant, and dejected. The magistrate was the weak link in the court.  For neither his personality, nor legal education, or experience qualified him for examining a person like Saddam Hussein, who was molded by politics and experience, and whose sanguinary nature made him hold sturdily in the severest of circumstances and become adamant in the most critical situations...."


"The Defendant And The Absent Witnesses"


Al-Mada's columnist Zuhayr al-Jaza'iri opined (7/3):   "What shame for the Arab judiciary and justice for these lawyers to volunteer to defend a dictator.  Yet, none of them has made a move to defend the tens of thousands of his victims.  What will the lawyers say to their clients and their own children when the charge is confirmed?  How will they reach the court if they do not seek the help of the occupation forces for their protection from the angry Iraqis?...  Saddam Hussein is now in the dock.  This is not a moment for gloating, as much as it is a moment for contemplation on the significance of the event, which calls for removing its personal and local nature and transforming it into a trial for dictatorship, which has blocked the prospects of development and progress before our entire Arab World.  This will not be possible unless the victims suppress their feelings and speak up clearly, calmly, and convincingly; and unless fairness replaces hatred, and justice replaces feuds.  Thus, we would remove Saddam Hussein from within us and exclude him from our future."


"The Party Is Over"


Chief Editor Basim al-Shaykh of independent daily Al-Dustur commented (7/3): "The day has come when Saddam Hussein, with all his power and tyranny, stands small and frail before Iraqi justice, which he diverted from its just course for three and a half decades.  He also tried through his oppressive policies to corrupt this justice, influence it, and transform it into a tool for repressing freedom of thought and expression and confiscating social and political justice and equality....  This day, which Iraqis thought would never come, has now become an established reality that is felt by everyone without any doubt.  Perhaps, it would be a lesson for everyone who would rule Iraq in the coming years.  They would deduce from it the lessons that would definitely prevent them from exploiting their posts for personal benefits and chauvinistic policies or peddling subversive political ideas and principles that would make the country repeat what it had experienced under Saddam and his collaborators....  Finally, Iraqis will make up for the days of injustice, starvation, misery, coercion, destitution, and utter loss they have experienced when the dictator folds up the last chair of his notorious party, because the party is over."


"No Possibility Of Saddam’s Innocence"


Abdul Rahman al-Rashid held in Asharq al-Awsat (7/1):  "Nobody needs an understanding of the law to realize that Saddam Hussein has no chance of being not convicted, except, perhaps, his daughters, if they believe he is innocent. It is certainly not a trial of Saddam himself as the one who executed innocents, but of his regime and its history.  It is absurd talking about hypotheses like what the government would do if the court found Saddam not guilty.  This is a political trial where the notorious history made by many people will be tried.  The question is to what extent the court is qualified to try the history represented by the man sitting before it.  In each one's mind there is a court, and we have all decided whether he is guilty or not.  To me his innocence is impossible.


ISRAEL:  "Too Early To Eulogize Him"


Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/2) opined:  "What started Thursday in Baghdad wasn't just a showcase trial, but also an impossible confrontation between Iraq of the present and Iraq of the past....  The leaders of the new Iraq perfectly understand the threat they're facing.  As long as alternative figure like Saddam exists, they won't be able to properly establish their regime....  This is Saddam's last battle....  But he intends to fight this battle like an entire civilization's show of revenge, as the representative of the Arabs and Islam against Arab treason and Crusader heresy."


WEST BANK:  "The Charges Against Saddam Apply To Bush And Many Other Leaders"


Hatim Abu Sha'ban, member of the Palestinian National Council, commented in the independent Al-Quds (7/3):  "Irrespective of the divergence in views on [Saddam Hussein's] trial, let us review the charges made against him, be they genuine or fabricated, and compare them to what other world leaders are doing....  American President Bush has committed many premeditated killings using all types of destructive weapons against the Afghan people....  That's not to mention the crimes being committed at Guantanamo prison.  Similarly, the deliberate killings committed by President George Bush in Iraq, including some that continue until this day, have been shown on television screens and documented by world human rights groups and international organizations....  As regards Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, the sky is the limit.  The deliberate crimes of killing and destruction committed by Sharon against the Palestinian people, with the full support of the American administration, are too many to list in this article....  Considering these facts, shouldn't U.S. President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon be tried on the same charges made against Saddam Hussein?"


"Puppet In Hands Of U.S.-Led Occupation"


The independent Palestinian Al-Ayyam commented (7/2):  "The Iraqi leadership is fighting off the prevalent opinion amongst Iraqis that it is only a puppet in the hands of the U.S.-led occupation....  Saddam's case is its chance to change this."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Bad Timing"


Jeddah’s moderate al-Bilad editorialized (7/5):  "The Iraqi people have had enough from Saddam.  They have suffered from all kinds of torture and tyranny under his regime.  However, Iraqis do not need to put their executioner on trial at this time.  Instead they need to find peace, security, stability, and to put an end to the bloodshed.  The question is why put Saddam on trial now and rush the judgment process?  All signs indicate that President Bush and his election game are behind this.  Nevertheless, and despite all the negatives, the fact remains that justice will be served on the Iraqi dictator and his accomplices." 


"Saddam Before Justice:  Is He A Criminal Or A Hero?"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (7/1):  "It is true that it is a great step for Iraq to be able to bring to justice its former president Saddam Hussein, regardless of the outcome of the trial.  But, what if it were discovered that he was a victim of a breach of trust by the U.S. when he played the required roles, sparing no methods, including creating wars, bringing poverty to the region, endangering the region’s security in order to complete a circle of conspiracies in favor of Israel.  Here we ask, can any Iraqi government continue the trial to disclose such secrets without any direct or indirect U.S. intervention to stop it?  We leave the answer to the events of the upcoming months, which are full of all sorts of surprises."


"Complex Trial"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan held (7/1):  "The justice system, which will put Saddam on trial today, must have a high level of experience to handle a complex case like Saddam’s.  The jury must distinguish between judging a person who did his people wrong for so long, and between a corrupt system that lasted for decades.  The negative effects of the former regime have been felt on all levels, domestically and internationally.  Therefore, the trial is not a simple case.  It is possible that it could go on for a long time.  But that should not distract Iraqis.  If Iraqis want to fulfill their dreams, they must cooperate to re-build their country and remove the remnants of the old regime."  


IRAN:  "Exposing Saddam"


Mohammad T. Roghaniha editorialized in English-language, pro-Khatami Iran Daily (7/4):  “Saddam Hussein's long-awaited trial for crimes against humanity is a good omen.  During his two decade rule of fear, the man and his clique spread death and destruction across the Arab country and the region....  It is indeed very strange that Saddam has not been charged with invading the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though sections of the global mass media have declared that this has been discussed with Saddam as one of his charges, existing evidence suggests few are interested in taking up this issue.  Is this because the West cooperated with Saddam to murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Iranian youth? If the trial is fair and the brutal killer and once a darling of the West is allowed to talk freely, his covert supporters will be hurled into a vicious scandal. This is why the American occupiers of Iraq are so tightly controlling the court proceedings....  It is obvious that the Bush team is pursuing specific objectives by holding Saddam's trial at this point in time.  It can serve as a publicity stunt and in some way boost the embattled George Bush's desperate bid for a second term in the White House....   Irrespective of the real intentions of the trial, Tehran must take this opportunity to release all information it has about the butcher of Baghdad and his long-list of crimes against the Iranian nation.  A large portion of Saddam's dossier relates to the crimes he and his men committed against Iranians for almost a decade, and hence our legal experts and the foreign policy apparatus should rise to the occasion and prepare an official complaint."


JORDAN:  "Where Justice Is Served"


Centrist influential and among the elite English daily Jordan Times editorialized (7/7):  “Unlike the ICC, the Arusha tribunal for Rwanda or the war crimes tribunal for crimes committed in former Yugoslavia, the Sierra Leone tribunal is situated right where the crimes were committed.  This makes the trials easier, cheaper and more effective.  This gives reason to believe that the trial of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his high-ranking aides can be better conducted, with evidence, provided that the basic norms on a fair trial are observed.  What makes any trial fair and renders justice is strict compliance with international standards on the administration of criminal justice.”


"Saddam Between Two Images"


Daily columnist Jawad Bashiti wrote in the independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm (7/6):  "Saddam Hussein will be tried on the basis of evidence presented, but the punishment has already been determined.  The court is not convened for the sake of a trial but rather to execute that punishment.  Those who did not heed international legitimacy in launching the war on Iraq are certainly not going to value any such legitimacy in putting Saddam Hussein on trial....  Saddam Hussein is now being portrayed as a tyrant and a criminal who committed many war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Yet this image is not one that will take away support for him among the Arab people, who still regard him as the Arab ruler who remained truest to the ideals of resistance and enmity towards Israel and the United States.  Had Saddam Hussein not lived by this enmity, the Arab people might now regard him as a tyrant who deserves the worst of fates....  Arab citizens are likely to be lenient towards a tyrant ruler if they find in him the spirit of national defiance, because national degradation is the strongest feeling Arab citizens feel....  Until Saddam Hussein’s replacement comes along, first manufactured by the United States, and later another as someone who rises in inevitable counter-reaction to the Americans’ choice, the Arab people will continue to regard Saddam Hussein as a national hero worthy of love and admiration.”


"Saddam’s Trial"


Columnist Hassan Barari wrote in the centrist, influential among the elite English daily Jordan Times (7/6):  "Saddam’s is a lost case and even the best lawyers on earth cannot defend him.  Puzzling, though, is the decision of some Jordanian lawyers to defend him, referring to him as the leader of the 'national movement of Iraq against occupation.'  The Iraqis do not see him as such.  Why should the Jordanian lawyers volunteer to do such a job when an overwhelming majority of Iraqi people suffered badly under his rule?  Ironically, those who defend him are the same people who are asking for democracy, human rights and pluralism.  One cannot reconcile these values with defending Saddam....  One cannot help but cast doubt on the timing of the trial.  First of all, the current interim government is totally illegitimate, as it was installed by a colonial power.  The Iraqis did not choose this government.  Until an elected government assumes power, such a trial will be irrelevant.”


"Sam Chalabi To Try Saddam"


Chief editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/30):  “Talk of the trial of the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and members of his regime in an Iraqi court run by Salem Chalabi reminds us of trials that used to take place after military coups in Baghdad in the sixties and the seventies, where a non-elected and illegitimate regime would take hold of the law and the authority and claim it as justice and national interest.  The...dark side of Saddam’s trial is that Salem Chalabi is to supervise the trial.  This in itself is an insult to Iraq and Iraqis.  Chalabi worked as a legal advisor for the occupation authority and for the former and current Iraqi government.  He is known as Sam Chalabi and is the nephew of Ahmad Chalabi.  Sam is an extreme oppositionist who served the CIA and who placed the so-called document for the transfer to democracy, which focused on ridding Iraq of its Arabism, establishing relations with Israel and eliminating Iraq’s unity with what is called a federation....  If such people are the ones who are going try Saddam and leaders of the former regime, then who will be in charge of the trial: Iraq or Israel?” 


 KUWAIT:  "Saddam Should Be Grateful"


Kuwait's Al-Siyasah commented (7/2):  "Saddam Hussein has no choice but to be brave and confess....  He should apologize to the Iraqi people and their families who were oppressed, tortured and killed. He should also apologize to his neighbors....  All the crimes he committed throughout his rule are clear as the sun.  They do not need evidence or witnesses.  The punishment for all these crimes is execution....  He should thank God that U.S. guards are still protecting him."


LEBANON:  "Iraq Is Divided Regarding Saddam Hussein"


Aouni Al-Kaaki opined in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (7/6):  “Debate inside and outside Iraq over the trial of Saddam Hussein will not end easily...because this issue is directly related to those countries that approved of the war on Iraq and those who were against it.  Furthermore, the Iraqis themselves are divided over this issue...  In this sense, the Americans have transformed the united Iraq to little emirates ruled by sects and races....  Despite their division over the trial of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqis believe unanimously that the real problem is the court itself, appointed by the American occupation.   Appointing these Iraqi judges is against international law....  This problem deprived the court of any credibility.  Furthermore, the Iraqis who suffered under Saddam’s rule do not trust the Americans because they suffered in a similar manner under the occupation’s rule and dictatorship...”


"The Last Stop"


Sateh Noureddine commented in Arab nationalist As-Safir (7/3):  “As for Saddam, the fear in his eyes was different....  His words were a mixture of defiance and a call for sympathy.  He talked with the young judge with respect and kindness and tried to raise his Iraqi partisanship when he cursed the Kuwaitis....  Saddam did not stop thinking of himself as a president; however, he did not speak in the manner of a person who is confident about himself or his followers....  The bottom line is the following:  despite his fear, Saddam was insolent and defiant.  He did not claim innocence and did not collapse before the judge....  This will help people to use their imagination and come up with new myths about this man.”


MOROCCO:  "Saddam Challenges The Judges"  


Abdelkrim Hamdane remarked in Aujourd'hui le Maroc (7/2):  "Notably, the renewal of the death penalty is being seen as a move to seal Saddam’s fate.  Mohamed Rachdan, the Jordanian lawyer who is coordinating the collective defense of the former Iraqi president, emphasized, the trial of Saddam Hussein should be thrown out.  ‘They are afraid of revealing the truth, because a fair trial would be damning for Bush.’"


QATAR:  "Beginning Of National Reconciliation"


Semi-independent Al-Rayah wrote (7/2):  "Saddam's trial should be just, fair and convincing, so as to mark a crucial stage in Iraq's history.  It should be the beginning of national reconciliation."


TUNISIA:  "The Process-Alibi"


Hajer Jeridi commented in independent French-language daily Le Temps (7/2):  "The coalition forces seem to have calculated everything beforehand in order to show to the international community that Iraq is a sovereign country with the tangible proof of Iraqis being the ones to try the former Baghdad’s number one....  President Bush needs this trial very badly so as to increase his 'gains' in the electoral race....  The tactic of eagerly recalling the inglorious era of the former Saddam Hussein’s regime is to divert the public from current events and to make Iraqis think about the past, knowing full well that they do not want to experience it again....  President Saddam Hussein will be tried because he has committed many crimes against his people...but who will answer for the continuous odious crimes and carnage that the Iraqi people have been victim to since the beginning of this dirty war?”


"Right To Speak"


A commentary by Mohamed Ben Ammar in independent French-language daily newspaper Le Quotidien stated (7/2):  “Saddam Hussein before Iraqi judges.  The images made their way around the world yesterday.  The words, on the other hand, were mostly censored.  For an arraignment that lasted a half hour, we only had the right to a few minutes....  During the first test for a free Iraq, this censorship of speech is a clear sign.  Unless, of course, we are afraid of the truth....  What do they know of the war in Iran, of arms sold by Reagan to Iraq, and the invasion of Kuwait following concurrence by the then American ambassador?  They surely know nothing, and yet they are the ones who will write history.”


UAE:  "The Real Trial For Iraqis Begins Now"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News held (7/1):  "A fortified sum of $75 million is allocated for the newly created Iraqi Special Tribunal.  Its key role would be to conduct the trial of Saddam Hussein and other key members of his regime.  The former dictator and the erstwhile ruling members of his Baathist Party are now prisoners in their own country and are likely to be tried for crimes against humanity and genocide.....  Some have cast a shadow of doubt on the credibility of the trials given the stature of the accused and the nature of the crimes.  The French lawyer Emmanuel Ludot who is part of a 20-lawyer team put together by Saddam's wife to represent him, said:  'It will be a court of vengeance, a settling of scores.'  Only an international tribunal would be apt, similar to that of the former Yugoslavia.  The real trial today is that of the Iraqi people themselves.  It is they who have to reconcile with the past.  It is ironical that the parameters by which Saddam will be prosecuted will hold the key to their country's future.  It happens to be that Saddam is the link between the past and the future."


"The Saddam Saga"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej Times declared (7/1):  "The act of turning Saddam Hussein back to the Iraqis to face the trial is an extraordinary development.  But far more important is the fact that the former Iraqi leader will face his own people.  In the post World War II Europe, there had been many trials of the Nazi war criminals.  In our times, the butchers of the Balkans like Slobodan Milosevic have faced tribunals for their terrible crimes against humanity.  However, it is for the first time that a leader from the Middle East is facing such a predicament in his own country.  The Saddam trial, therefore, by any standards is a unique and unprecedented event.  The former dictator is to be charged with crimes against humanity....  Although the charges against the former Iraqi leader are to be filed today (Thursday), it will be several months before the trial actually begins.  In the meantime, the U.S. forces will continue to guard him.  Of course, the list of crimes against the Iraqi dictator is long and legendary.  He had been a ruthless ruler and inflicted monumental suffering and misery on his own people and on Iraq's neighbors.  Doubtless, the Iraqi people are decidedly better off without him.  Having said that, it is also necessary to stress that whatever be Saddam's crimes, he must get a fair trial....  Saddam may have denied justice to his own people, but it should not be denied to him by Iraq's new rulers; who must demonstrate by their actions that they have been able to break away from the past.  The new, democratic Iraq should be just to all.  There are lessons to be learned from the Saddam saga.  His life is a lesson to all those who abuse the responsibility of leading their people."




AUSTRALIA:  "Where The Future Is Dictated By Justice"


Piers Akerman observed in the popular tabloid Daily Telegraph (7/1):  “The unimaginable is taking place in Iraq with the former dictator Saddam Hussein being brought before a court and charged with war crimes....  Those who were opposed to the liberation now sneer that the new government is still reliant upon upwards of 140,000 foreign troops, mainly U.S., for security.  This is absolutely correct, but why should it be a cause for contempt?  If Saddam's forces were such when he was in office that the doomsayers believed the war would involve the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and would inevitably become a Vietnam-like quagmire, isn't it natural that the new government needs some help restoring a sense of civility after more than three decades of dictatorship, ethnic cleansing, and genocide?...  This is not the time for Western nations to cut and run, abandoning the new Iraq government and its people to the extremists working to destroy the new start.  After the ravages of Saddam's regime, the Iraqis need time to come to understand and enjoy peace, decency, freedom and their own form of democracy.  For them, and those interested in seeing liberty flourish, this is a very moving time.”


"Saddam's Trial Must Be Just"


The conservative Australian stated (7/2):  "That Saddam will be tried and sentenced by an Iraqi court sends a powerful signal to the people of Iraq and their enemies.  It demonstrates the nation is free to purge the memories of its dark past as it chooses.  Those who argue that Saddam should join Serb warlord Slobodan Milosevic in being tried by an international court duck an important distinction.  Mr. Milosevic was handed over to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague by the Serbian government.  In Saddam's case, the Iraqi government, and people, want to try him at home.  But it is essential Saddam's trial is fair, that it does not degenerate into a long cry for vengeance.  The case against Saddam must be constructed calmly and carefully.  He must be tried for crimes he authorized or allowed.  And whatever the punishment--an innocent verdict seems beyond any expectation--it must be justified under internationally acknowledged law on crimes against humanity.  The fact Saddam is being bought to trial, instead of being simply shot, must terrify Osama bin Laden and his allies, because it shows them they face enemies around the world who follow a higher code than their miserable equation of violence with justice.  Iraq is about to join the nations where the law prevails.  This in itself is a fitting fate for the tyrant. "


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARs):  "Hussein's Trial A Test For New Government"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post wrote in its editorial (7/4):  "The image of Saddam Hussein being hauled before a court to face trial for monstrous crimes is a satisfying one.  At last, this brutal dictator is where he belongs--in the dock.  But grave doubts remain about the ability of the Iraqi legal system to deliver justice rather than simply revenge.  And Hussein's resilient courtroom performance gave a taste of the problems which lie ahead....  There are justifiable doubts about the ability of the Iraqi legal system to handle the case.  The judges and lawyers involved lack experience and expertise.  And the emotions the case evokes are not conducive to an impartial, independent hearing.  It is easy to see why there have been calls for him to be tried by an international tribunal instead.  However, this trial has a most important role to play in helping Iraq come to terms with its past.  An open trial, in which evidence of Hussein's deeds is given, tested, and weighed by the court will help delegitimize his regime.  It is needed in order to bring justice to his victims and to heal wounds.  The trial is a necessary part of the country's process of reconciliation and rebuilding.  In such circumstances, it is better that he be tried in Iraq - by Iraqis."


"The Implications Of Bringing Saddam To Trial"


The pro-PRC Chinese language Macau Daily News commented (7/4):  "After detaining Saddam for seven months, he finally was brought to the Iraqi court on June 30.  When he was charged with violating humanity, the trial was not only concerned about the fate of Saddam but the future of Iraq.  For the Iraqi people, the special Iraqi court that tried Saddam would reveal the offense of the Saddam regime.  For the Iraqi interim government, the trial is an opportunity to rebuild people's confidence in the government.  For the Bush administration, it will give the U.S. a moral base for its invasion in Iraq....  The Iraqi government is only an 'interim government.'  It lacks public support and its legal base is weak.  Iraqi people generally think that such a trial is controlled by the U.S. at the back.  If the trial cannot convince the Iraqi people, it will trigger terrorist revenge.  The situation will become turbulent.  The eagerness of the U.S. to bring Saddam to trial will easily make people connect the trial to the November presidential election.  And they will think that Bush may want to stress the legitimacy of invading Iraq"


JAPAN:  "Saddam Trial Must be Fair and Open"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun insisted (7/5):  "The Special Iraqi Tribunal must answer questions and address anxiety held by the Iraqi public and the international community about its proceedings.  The court is responsible for conducting a fair and judicious trial based on evidence and exercising a system of justice rarely seen under Hussein's rule....  The interim government appears to be trying to use the hearing to obtain public support.  However, it must remember that the trial is likely to be a test to see if the nation is ready for the rule of law."       


"Saddam Trial Aimed At Highlighting Power Transfer"


Liberal Mainichi observed (7/2):  "In an attempt to avoid the criticism of being under U.S. influence, the interim government has prosecuted Saddam Hussein only three days after receiving full sovereignty....  Broadcasting images of the former dictator on trial will help dispel the charismatic image held by some Iraqis.  Prime Minister Allawi's repeated criticism of Saddam is aimed at reminding Iraq of the former president's brutal rule as well uniting the Iraqi people under a new nation."


"Legitimacy Of Trial To Be Questioned"


Liberal Asahi noted from Baghdad (7/2):  "It is possible that the trial of Saddam Hussein might expose a 'hidden' relationship between Iraq and the U.S., which helped support the Hussein regime until the 1990 Gulf crisis....  While foreign attorneys for Saddam are poised to raise questions about the trial's legitimacy, they remain located outside of Iraq because of security concerns.  There is concern that without the presence of the attorneys, the tribunal could become a 'court for retribution.'"


NEW ZEALAND:  "Saddam Has To Be Dealt With Quickly"


The top-circulation left-center New Zealand Herald viewed (7/3):  "The speed with which the interim Iraqi Government has whisked Saddam Hussein before a court was not quite what the United States had in mind.  It had wanted to delay proceedings until the Iraqis set up a special court and trained a legal team.  Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is working to a different timetable, however.  He must quickly establish himself as a tough and credible leader if his administration is to have any chance of survival.  Saddam offers the perfect opportunity for decisiveness....  Saddam may well reveal details of military aid, especially during Iraq's bloody war against Iran's radical clerics.  Yet even if the extent of that assistance, or other means of support, comes as a surprise, it must be viewed in realpolitik terms....  It is to the credit of the U.S. that it is prepared to weather any embarrassing trial revelations, and that it knowingly increased the likelihood of this when it handed Saddam over to the Iraqis.  The Bush administration would have considered placing him before an international tribunal.  That would have heightened the prospect of a fair and impartial hearing, but would also have denied the Iraqi people the chance to draw a line through Saddam's regime....  In all likelihood, Saddam will be sentenced to death....  Its exercise would be an embarrassment to Britain, an opponent of capital punishment.  More significantly, there would be the risk of a backlash, particularly from Saddam's Sunni community.  The popular wisdom is that such executions create martyrs....  A tyrant is being brought to justice, according to Iraq's criminal code.  He can hardly complain about the fairness of it all."


"Act One, Scene One"


The Southland Times editorialized (7/3):  "Saddam will get justice and it will come after a far more open and fair process than he allowed so many of his victims, but just how open and fair it will be is less certain....  The images of the tired, worn-looking former dictator being brought into the court...are seen by the American administration as providing a graphic, positive boost for President George Bush, whose re-election campaign is in trouble....  In fronting Saddam before an Iraqi tribunal the U.S. is breaking with international protocols in putting despotic heads of state on trial.  While the outcomes of [recent trials conducted by the UN International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague] have never been in doubt they have been overseen by independent jurors, clearly divorced from any of the nations involved in the conflicts, so they can be seen to be not only fair but complete."


VIETNAM:  "The Hero Who Comes Back"


Manh Cuong wrote in Lao Dong, the daily run by the Vietnam Confederation of Labor Unions (7/3):  "Despite the fact that Iraq does yet have the most fundamental law, a constitution, Saddam Hussein was put on trial.  People are wondering under what law the court would try Saddam Hussein....  It is really unreasonable that a trial for Khmer Rouge killers whose crimes are known with solid evidence has been hindered for the last 25 years, while Saddam Hussein, whose wrongdoing have not yet been proven, was put on trial hastily by a government which is just 5 days old."




INDIA:  "Saddam Has His Secrets"


S. Nihal Singh opined in centrist The Asian Age (7/8):  "By putting Saddam Hussein on trial in Baghdad behind a brand new balustrade crafted by Americans, the U.S. authorities sought to dispel the aura of the long-time ruler of Iraq.  The impact was quite the reverse....  The American problem is simple even as it is formidable:  how to separate Saddam from Iraq and Iraqi nationalism built over decades?  Many Iraqis and others have scores to settle with Saddam. At the same time, they bridle at the American occupation, now thinly disguised under a veneer of Iraqi sovereignty.  And every time they seek to humiliate Saddam, they humiliate the Iraqi nation and the Arab world.  The American dilemma was palpable during and after the trial.  Having felt that Saddam had stolen the thunder at the trial, they sought to correct the impression by showing the former president of Iraq being manacled.  Thereby, the U.S. again fell into the trap of showing disrespect to a symbol of Iraq--the disrespect shown to him while he was dug out of a hole last December still rankles in Iraqi and Arab consciousness....  Under Saddam's rule lasting decades, judicial proceedings could hardly be called fair.  How then could Iraqis suddenly become proficient enough to give their fallen leader a fair trial?  The answer is that a whole array of Americans is propping up the Iraqis, poring over documents to frame charges and orchestrating the scripted Trial of the Dictator."


"Murder Of Law And Justice Is Guaranteed"


Nationalist Urdu daily Rashtirya Sahara opined (7/4):  "The 'Kangaroo' court constituted by the U.S.-installed puppet government in Baghdad has no credibility whatsoever and needs legal endorsement for its own existence before it holds trial against the former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.  International legal experts and jurists have seriously challenged the credentials of the court and the reports of its very first hearing leave nobody in doubt that the fundamental elements of a genuine judicial process such as the rule of law, justice and fair trial will have no role to play.  One cannot expect justice from the U.S. imperialism that is primarily based on cruelty and brutality against others."


PAKISTAN:  "Saddam In The Dock"


Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily Dawn opined (7/3):  "One doubts if the trial will be fair.  Iraq is under American occupation and the puppet government in Baghdad is run by Saddam's enemies.  Already, a group of western lawyers have claimed that Saddam is being denied a fair trial....  A trial under an elected Iraqi government would be more credible.  There is no doubt that Saddam's conviction is a foregone conclusion.  If he were tried say in a European Union court, he would not be executed, because the death penalty there stands abolished.  The Americans have handed him over to his enemies exactly because they know that Saddam would be executed.  If that happens, it would hardly make America more popular with the Iraqi and Arab people."


BANGLADESH:  "Saddam In Chains"


The independent Bangla language newspaper Jugantor commented (7/4):  "The U.S. and its allies have been speaking against Saddam Hussein since his ouster in April last year.  Yet, his popularity among the Iraqi people has not diminished.  The solution to Iraq does not lie in the occupation of the country.  If the pledge given to the people of the world is that Saddam will get justice, the first task will be the dissolution of the farcical court."


"Saddam And Iraqi Legalities"

Independent English language newspaper New Age commented (7/3):  "When the Saddam regime was removed through the entry of U.S. forces into Baghdad, it was actually a legally established government in a sovereign country that was being routed.  All these factors should be helping the former dictator in court, which again has been set up by an interim government installed on a dubious basis by the invading U.S.-British powers."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Saddam’s Trial: Designed To Be A Sham"


Shadrack Gutto wrote in the liberal This Day (7/6):  “The intended trial of Saddam...has the potential to be such a travesty of criminal justice that it calls for comment.  Among the main issues that scream for attention are:  the nature of the alleged crimes and the principle of selectively; the legal status of the accused; the applicable law; status of the court and the judges; and the right to legal representation by a legal representative of the accuser’s choice....  Bush’s legal advisors are reported to have given patently wrong legal opinion that the President is above the law in times of war.  Let it be hoped that the fledgling Iraqi leaders who are desperate for international recognition have not been infected by this ideology and doctrine of lawlessness.  The international community should have learnt harsh lessons from the embedded journalism of the media about the Iraqi question.  If this indeed happened then international attention and scrutiny of events in Iraq may generate sufficient pressure to ensure that the trial of Saddam Hussein and his associates is not the sham it is designed to be.”


"Hussein Still Holds Sway Over Iraq’s Future"


The liberal Sunday Independent commented (7/4):  “The image of Saddam Hussein in court, in shackles, and under guards, is the most potent symbol that the regime in Iraq has changed.  It is a symbol that the United States and Iraqi authorities are both using, and will doubtlessly continue to use, to full advantage....  If this public relations exercise can help convince the people of Iraq that there is hope for the future...then so much the better....  However, the way in which Hussein is treated will say much about the sort of state Iraq is likely to become.  The best that can probably be hoped for is that the proceedings should have international jurists as observers and be conducted to internationally recognized standards."   


"Squeezing Saddam For U.S. Votes"


Mathatha Tsedu wrote in pro-government afrocentric City Press (7/4):  “President Bush has put his re-election campaign strategy into full swing.  And central to that strategy all along was Saddam, Iraq, and the so-called war on terror....  The campaign was boosted with the handover of power from the occupation forces to the Iraqi interim government and with the handover of Saddam and his arraignment in court....  Meanwhile [Bush's] silence [about these events] was more newsworthy than anything he might have said.  It is all part of an elaborate media plan designed to get bush re-elected, using Saddam and Iraq as pawns in a chess game....  We now have a situation where Saddam is in the legal custody of Iraq but in the physical custody of the Americans....  What is not in doubt for the Bush campaign strategists is the propaganda value that Saddam represents.  It is a value that they are determined to unlock and exploit, at all costs.”


UGANDA:  "U.S Bungled Saddam’s First Court Appearance"


The independent daily Monitor commented (7/3):  "It was scandalizing to see the ex-Iraqi dictator appear before “an investigating judge” without legal representation.  Anybody who has the slightest knowledge of the law will tell you that one of the grounds upon which a suit can fail is the failure by the prosecution to allow a suspect enjoy all his/her legal rights.  Through actions like this, the U.S government continues to come across as a cowboy without any regard for the law.  Such reprehensible behavior is responsible for the global distrust of America’s actions in the Middle East.  How does President George W. Bush expect to win hearts and minds when he presides over a regime that is happy to act outside internationally recognized principles of law?  Saddam Hussein was a very bad leader, but civilized conduct demands that he enjoy due process of the law.  Otherwise how different will his accusers be if they deny him the justice he allegedly denied hundreds under his tyrannical rule?"




CANADA:  "Try Saddam's Ilk, Not Iraqi People"


The liberal Toronto Star commented (7/6):  "Some argue that Saddam ought to be tried by the new International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure justice is done.  That shouldn't be necessary.  Iraqis can draw on expert judicial help from Canada and elsewhere to conduct the trials and expose Baathist crimes.  And the ICC's own statute gives national governments first crack at prosecuting criminals.  The ICC exists to enforce international law when others can't, or won't.  Let Iraqis try Saddam, provided he has a fair chance to defend himself, the court is properly constituted, and accepted procedure is respected.  But as Iraqis learn to be a country ruled by law, not by a despot's whim, they should follow one other United Nations custom, and substitute life in prison, for the death penalty.  Former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic faces life if convicted, as did Rwanda's genocidal leaders.  The UN has chosen to abide by a higher moral code.  Rightly, it rejects capital punishment as a barbarity. Iraq's young courts should break with their country's bloody past and do the same."


"Foreign Expertise Needed At Saddam Hussein's Trial"


The left-of-center Vancouver Sun wrote (7/6):  "Saddam Hussein was right about one thing:  his trial is indeed 'theater.'  In fact, all criminal trials are theatrical--they are carefully scripted morality plays that allow the public to see and play a role in society's method of dispensing justice.  But Mr. Hussein's trial is more theatrical still, because he's not the only one on trial.  Rather, the legitimacy of the new Iraqi government, the American government and the rule of law itself are all equally on trial, and the world is watching....  Many people, including Mr. Hussein's lawyers, have argued that the trial should be conducted by an international tribunal, like the trial of former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic or the Rwanda war crimes tribunal, held in Tanzania.  Yet there are also good reasons to have Iraqis conduct the trial in Iraq. Mr. Hussein's alleged crimes were committed against Iraqis.  And, since a criminal trial is a morality play, it's crucial that the society victimized by Mr. Hussein play the lead role in trying him for his crimes.  Instead of looking to Yugoslavia or Rwanda, then, supporters of an Iraqi trial could look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa for an example of a successful domestic tribunal.  And there are ways the Iraqis can boost the expertise on the tribunal and preserve its impartiality.  The statute that set up the tribunal allows for the use of foreign judges, and the Iraqis would be wise to appoint foreign judges with expertise in conducting major war crimes tribunals.  By accepting international support, the Iraqis could kill two birds with one stone, as it were.  The inclusion of foreign judges could ensure that the trial would satisfy international standards and could allay fears that the tribunal is nothing more than an exercise in revenge.  And there's nothing more important than that.  For the trial of Saddam Hussein must not simply be seen as putting an end to Mr. Hussein; it must be seen as ending a regime characterized by the rule of one man and replacing it with one emphasizing the rule of law."


"Saddam's Trial Must Bring Closure"


The centrist Times Colonist of Victoria noted (7/6):  "For many, the spectacle of Saddam in white shirt and business suit, talking down to a clearly intimidated judge, was a perversion of justice, a misplaced attempt to prettify barbarism.  For others, the sight of an Arab leader humbled by western powers may have carried a different message....  Unlike Germany and Japan at the close of the Second World War, Iraq is not a pacified and defeated country, as the insurrection in Fallujah makes clear.  Neither the new interim Iraqi government nor the occupying allied forces have the upper hand yet, and the possibility of civil war is real.  A high-profile trial will strain an already fragile situation....  No doubt Saddam will use the occasion to argue a wider complicity in his policies, starting with the Western powers like France and Russia who sold him arms and propped up his regime to counter-balance the Iranian mullahs.  While proving one had accomplices is no defense at law, it may be a powerful political tactic with which to destabilize the new regime and sow mischief in the region....   A trial need be neither perfect nor voluminous to be fair.  It must clarify the moments of evil in Hussein's regime, and it must bring closure to a grim period in Iraq's history.  It can best do this by imposing simplicity and resisting efforts, by those well-intentioned as much as those with other agendas, to bury Saddam's wrongdoing in a surfeit of due process."


ARGENTINA:  "Second Rate"


Hinde Pomeraniec, leading Clarin international columnist, opined (7/2):  "Yesterday, Saddam Hussein reappeared as the 'Iraqi President', at least through his declarations.  The trial against him is a 'theater', he said in Arabic, attired in his Western clothes and with a challenging look in his eyes.  He may be wrong though.  Staged by Iraqi hands and U.S. brains, his process looks more like a bad Hollywood movie, which you choose to watch on a rainy, Saturday afternoon."


BRAZIL:  "Saddam Won"  


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo's political columnist Clovis Rossi remarked (7/3):  "It's unbelievable, but the way the U.S. has behaved in the Iraqi crisis has accomplished the feat of restoring Saddam Hussein's image....  [Saddam] is right when he says he is Iraq's president.  If the invasion was illegal, then his deposition was also illegal, as he has argued....  He is also right when he says that Bush is a criminal.  The innocent civilians killed in Iraq and the images of Abu Ghraib prison, not to mention Guantanamo, cannot be questioned.  One can even argue that Saddam killed more people.  This is not fair because first, no one knows how many he or the occupation forces killed, and second, human rights cannot be measured by quantities, but according to respect or disrespect to them.  This is what gives democracy moral superiority over people like Saddam.  To have undermined this precept is the greatest crime the U.S. president has committed." 


"The Challenge Of Saddam's Trial"  


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (7/3):  "Saddam's trial will only begin next year....  But the legitimacy of the judicial action must be built before that.  It depends on how rigorously the court will follow the due legal process whose cornerstone is the defendant's full right of defense.  As happened in the Milosevic case, Saddam will exert this right by challenging the indictment with political discourses and bravado, in an attempt to galvanize the Arab world....  Before condemning Saddam and his followers, it will be necessary to expose the horrifying barbarism they perpetrated and even so treat them with justice.  This will show to the Iraqi people that Saddam's settlement of accounts with the past will bring Iraq closer to the civilized world."


MEXICO:  "Welcome To The Trial-Of-The-Century Show"


Gabriel Moyssen wrote in the business-oriented El Financiero (7/1):  "Beginning today, welcome to Saddam Hussein's show trial, in color and live--the most important trial of the century!  Special Iraqi Chief Justice Salem Chalabi has said it:  'We are in negotiations to be able to televize the trial' against Ronald Reagan's ally in war crimes and the probable hanging by November 2 at the climax of the U.S. presidential campaign...that is, if the Pentagon has not captured Osama bin Laden or his 'agent' Abu Musab al Zarqawi or another of the empire's monsters as predicted by some Republican legislators."


CHILE:  "The Trial Of Saddam Hussein"


Popular, conservative, afternoon daily La Segunda (7/2):  “The formulation of six concrete charges against Hussein does not refer to the supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that President Bush invoked to justify war, but the use of poisonous gas against the Kurdish minority, the invasion of Kuwait, and serious crimes of internal repression....  The development (of justice) will depend in grand part on the degree of persuasion produced both inside and outside of Iraq to hold the ex-dictator responsible for violations of basic rights and aggression toward the country’s neighbors.”


"Only Legitimate Authority Can Bring Legitimate Trial"  


Weekly round-up in conservative influential Santiago newspaper El Mercurio (7/3):  “To be successful, Allawi should, as soon as possible, gain legitimacy among the population and demonstrate his independence from Washington....  With very limited powers and without legitimacy, it will be difficult for Allawi and the other members of his accomplish their goals....  Bringing Saddam to justice is not only a judicial challenge, but also a political one.  No one, inside or outside Iraq, doubts that the ousted leader should be brought to justice, but many question the origins of the Special Iraqi Tribunal and consider that only when the elected government assumes power will there be conditions for true justice....   Only when a legitimate authority not imposed by occupation forces confirms the composition of the tribunal to try Saddam, will there be confidence that--whatever befalls him--Saddam’s fate will not been seen as a mere act of vengeance.”


VENEZUELA:  "Saddam Looks At The Waning Moon"


Rafael del Naranco commented in liberal afternoon daily El Mundo (7/1):  "For the first time after his detention, Saddam is in the hands of his own people, whom he enslaved without mercy for long 25 years....  A special court in charge of trying Saddam will read the charges pressed against him and 11 top officials of his regime.  If they are found guilty, they will receive a sentence to death.  Saddam will have what thousands of his victims did not:  attorneys, more than 20, who have already called Iraqi justice  'illegal.'  According to Mohammad Al-Rachdane, chief of the group of defenders, 'the new Executive only has the legality the United States gives him.'  It is possible, but not completely true, but the ruthless despot never respected any law, acting as the owner of lives and lands."


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