July 12, 2004
FIRST TEST FOR THE NEW IRAQ
** 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
** Trying a re-energized Saddam could open "a Pandora’s box
'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
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."
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
"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
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
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
"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
GERMANY: "Better For
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."
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."
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."
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."
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 penalty...is 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
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."
"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
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
NORWAY: "Saddam Before
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."
"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
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
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
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
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
"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."
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."
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
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.”
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.”
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
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
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.”
"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."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
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
"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
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."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
"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
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
PAKISTAN: "Saddam In
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
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."
And Iraqi Legalities"
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."
"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
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
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
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."
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
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 government...to
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.”
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."