Picture a 69 year old prisoner of war brought into a dungeon by sinister hooded men and hanged to death. Now picture an ex-ruler going through the same. Justified?? Not at all! In fact, right from the devastating war waged on Iraq, the way Saddam was tried and the final execution- nothing was justified!
Let us look at the series of events that took place leading upto the hanging. The Bush government for its own selfish interests launches a large scale and organised attack on Iraq claiming the country had vast weapons of mass destruction- a claim widely refuted today. The result- more than 6,60,000 innocent Iraqi’s lose their lives. The President of the country was captured and the whole world saw humiliating images of the erstwhile Head of State with an unruly mop of hair visiting a dentist- apparently he had cavities!! This was part of the U.S. strategy meant to portray the taming of the lion- the end of Saddam’s power.
Post his capture the U.S. government took the decision to give Saddam back to the Iraqi government – so that he could be punished for his inhuman practices by his own people. Since an international criminal court is in existence, Saddam being a prisoner of war, should have been tried according to international laws. It would have ensured that Saddam got a fair trial which is exactly what the U.S. government did not want! It wanted him dead! Because dead men tell no tales! Why else would a U.S. sponsored court be set up in Iraq? If Saddam were tried according to international laws, he would have inevitably put forth the defense that the greatest crimes for which he stands accused namely- the Iran-Iraq war and the suppression of the Shiites, were carried out with the support of the Bush administration. Besides, the International courts consider the death penalty as a barbaric punishment.
So the U.S. government was left with no choice but to set up an Iraqi puppet court and put Saddam speedily to death claiming it was merely doing the will of the Iraqi people. There were many instances during the trial where the injustice was apparent-
1. When the Coalition Provisional Authority drafted the original statute of the Iraqi higher criminal courts, they limited the mandate in two crucial ways-
a)The court was given jurisdiction only for war crimes committed between July 1968 and May 2007.
b)The court could try any natural person whether Iraqi or not suspected of committing the grave offences provided he/she was a resident of Iraq.
Both the above limitations were laid to protect the U.S. government because any legal process that assigns criminal liability to Saddam would naturally run the risk of assigning criminal liability to others who committed similar acts.
2. Saddam was denied access to legal counsel in the first year after arrest.
3. There was inadequate protection of witnesses and defense lawyers leading to three of them being assassinated during the course of the trial.
4. Saddam’s defence was only allowed two weeks instead of the usual 30 days in which to read and respond to the trial judgement. When they did appeal, the Iraqi Appeals Chamber took less than 21 days to quash the appeal. The Iraqi government’s orchestration of Saddam Hussein’s trail and execution contravenes Articles 10,12,13,20,23 and 84 of the Third Geneva Convention which is supposed to protect captured military personnel like Saddam Husein. The trial was a mockery of International laws and of some of the most basic and fundamental rights like Right to Fair Trial and Right to Life.
Saddam Hussein may not have been a martyr and it is undisputed that he deserved to be punished for the atrocities endured by the Iraqi people because of him. The Bush government has been trying to justify the hanging of Saddam by stating that he was a dangerous man. But the American troops have caused too much devastation in Iraq for the Americans to take a moral stand on the issue!
Mr. Bush, in fact does not seem to value human life. I will substantiate my claim with the following facts-
a) As the Governor of Texas, he presided over 152 executions – more than any Governor in U.S. history.
b) After becoming the President, he ordered the execution of a Persian Gulf war veteran on the very eve of launching war on Iraq. The federal death penalty had prior to this been imposed in the U.S. back in 1963.
c) The widespread killings of the Iraqi people as a result of the baseless war is also indicative of the American President’s ruthlessness.
The apparent virtuous stand of the American government on Iraq was actually a veil disguising its hatred towards Saddam and the control that it had and continues to do so on the Iraqi government. The premeditated judgement given by the Iraqi court on the basis of evidence that establishes guilt not beyond reasonable doubt was only honouring the American principle of ‘Give him a fair trial and hang him. It is a squandered opportunity for the Iraqi people to come to terms with the crimes of the past. The selfish interests of the Bush-led American government ensured that neither Saddam Hussein nor the Iraqi government got any justice!!