Monday, July 24, 2006

Kangaroo court.

So much for a fair trials for Saddam et al. One of the other defendants asked the judge for a different lawyer, after three were killed and one injured. The judge refused. Fair enough -- he might have good reason to do so. What's bizarre are the judge's proffered justifications:
"I want to ask you: How long will you and your lawyers continue this game?" the judge snapped. "This game with the court is meant to prolong the trial ... Regrettably, your lawyers are making speeches and accusations against the court, accusing it of being linked with the Americans and the occupation." ... "You insult Baghdad by saying Baghdad has fallen under the boot of American soldiers," the judge said. "It was the totalitarian and dictatorship regime that has fallen — not Baghdad." ... The judge then told chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi he should open a criminal investigation against Barzan "on a charge of provoking the killing of Iraqis." ... "You, meaning all of you, from childhood, your hands are soaked with the blood of Iraqis," the judge said. "Enough killing. Enough blood. From childhood your hands are tainted."
The man should be recused for this gross demonstration of bias against this man. Undoubtedly, he is a vicious criminal and does indeed have "blood on his hands". But for the judge to vent like this in open court suggests to me, very strongly, that the Americans are essentially pulling his strings. Or, to the point, it suggests that anyone could easily claim the Americans are pulling his strings. If these trials are to have any positive impact -- as opposed to the more sensible option of first going to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- then they must be such that no one can reasonably attack their impartiality and fairness. Unfortunately, if this judge can't keep his opinions to himself, and stick as closely as possible to legalistic justifications for his decisions, then this goal will not be served. In which case, insurgents will have a cluster of martyrs to whom they may dedicate their ongoing war.

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