January 29, 2006
New Iraqi Judge Takes Saddam, Lawyers In Hand
After the previous senior judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, left in a snit, following intense criticism across Iraq that he had allowed Hussein to seize control of his own trial and use it as a platform for his semi-coherent rants about how badly he was being treated, the new judge who replaced Amin appears to be a "new broom."
Raouf Rasheen Abdel-Rahman began his tenure by expelling one defendant and one of the defense lawyers for shouting at the court. When the entire defense team threatened to walk out, rather than placate them, Abdel-Rahman let them go, appointed temporary defense counsel for that day, and continued with the trial in the absence of one of the defendants and the defense team:
The session, which was the first since Dec. 22, rapidly degenerated into chaos. [Barzan] Ibrahim [Saddam Hussein's half brother] called the court "the daughter of a whore" and refused to sit down. Abdel-Rahman ordered him removed, and Ibrahim scuffled with two guards before they dragged him out of the courtroom.
Then defense lawyer Salih al-Armouti, a Jordanian, was forcibly removed from the court for yelling at Abdel-Rahman.
The entire defense team walked out in protest. "This is an unjust and illegitimate court," Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's chief lawyer, told the judge on the way out.
At that point, Saddam Hussein began to rant, so he, too, was calmly ordered removed by the new judge. Three witnesses to Hussein's brutality gave their testimony, as the trial proceeded in relative peace. I suspect this entire charade was deliberately staged, in order to test the new judge and see if he would be as pliant as the old. Alas for the defense team, Judge Abdel-Rahman passed with flying colors.
I am much happier with this new judge than I was with Judge Amin -- who I felt gave Hussein and his grandstanding defense lawyers (including American traitor Ramsey Clark) too much latitude to turn the trial into a three-ring circus, or whatever Arabs say when they mean to say a circus... a forty-tent bazaar?
Hussein and his seven co-defendants face a possible sentence of death by hanging:
Defense lawyers criticized the tough approach, saying it was preventing Saddam and his seven co-defendants from getting a fair trial. The eight could face death by hanging if convicted in the killing of at least 140 Shiites after a July 1982 attempt on Saddam's life in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.
Naturally, "critics" of the trial -- which means the Left in America and Europe -- are already denouncing the new Judge Abdel-Rahman for not giving the defendants a fair trial. They see the trial as a forum for their new innocent martyr, Saddam Hussein, to "testify" (by outbursts) against the "real villain," who should actually be in the dock instead of Hussein, in many leftists' opinions: George W. Bush. But clearly, Abdel-Rahman plans to keep the focus where it should be... on the question of whether Hussein and his henchmen tortured to death nearly a gross of innocent citizens of a town that had the unfortunate distinction of being the location of one of the assassination attempts of the dictator.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who is part of Saddam's defense team but did not attend Sunday's session, denounced the court as "lawless" and repeated calls for it to be moved out of Iraq. [To where... the Hague? Or the International Court of Leftist Opinion at Harvard? - the Mgt.]
"Now the court is seated without the defendants' counsel of choice. This is wrong," Clark said, speaking from New York....
Richard Dicker, the head of the International Justice Program at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the failure to question the witnesses was "probably the most disturbing part of the day."
"The events take us further away from the basic practices of fairness that are necessary in any trial and especially in a trial of this significance," he said.
Ibrahim's comments were "clearly provocative and disrespectful," but Abdel-Rahman was "a little too trigger-happy," he told The Associated Press....
Critics have said the turmoil gives credence to claims that Saddam cannot get a fair trial in a country torn apart by ethnic, religious and tribal divisions and an insurgency comprising large numbers of his supporters.
Michael Scharf, an international law professor who helped train judges for the trial, said Abdel-Rahman has to walk a "tightrope" between maintaining order and fairness.
"The risk is that the judge's tactics will be viewed as too heavy-handed and therefore unfair," said Scharf, head of the international law center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Note that, despite Yahoo's insinuating description above, Michael Scharf does not appear to be one of those "critics." He has been blogging on the Case School of Law website, and his comments seem quite even-handed and temperate. See this entry from January 17th, for example:
This changing of the guard [after Amin quit but before a successor was named] should not be seen as a sign that Judge Amin had bungled the trial (as his critics have asserted). Despite the frequent (and sometimes successful) attempts by the defendants to disrupt and derail the proceedings, in just five trial days (October 19, November 28, December 5, December 21 and December 22), the prosecutor completed an opening statement, and fourteen witnesses testified and were cross-examined by the defense -- a very efficient pace even by American judicial standards. With forty witnesses still to go, the prosecution has already proven the scale of the atrocities, the direct involvement of several of Hussein's co-defendants, and the command hierarchy - the key elements necessary for a conviction in this case. And especially for those who understand Arabic, the testimony of Saddam's victims has been both moving and compelling....
Judge al-Hamash [originally thought to be likely to replace Amin, until al-Hamash came under suspicion of having himself been a secret member of the Baath Party] can use his new position to instill a greater degree of control on the proceedings. He can, for example, insist that for now on Saddam Hussein only speak through his lawyer, rather than address the court and the witnesses directly, except when it is the defendant's turn to testify as a witness on his own behalf. And Judge al-Hamash can enforce this by removing the microphones from the defendants' dock, so that the televised coverage does not pick up any disruptive outbursts....
In taking such actions, Judge al-Hamash must be extremely careful not to appear too heavy handed. If Judge al-Hamash yells at the defendants, for example, as Judge Richard May did during the Milosevic trial at The Hague, it will only play into the defense strategy of trying to cast the proceedings as unfair and illegitimate. As Judge Amin understood, in the long run, it is far more important that the trial be seen as scrupulously fair than for the judge to be seen as winning the battle of the wills against Saddam Hussein.
This strikes me as very fair commentary -- and not as the words of a mere "critic" of the trial, as Yahoo News painted Scharf.
So it appears that the trial is now back on course, after former Judge Amin showed himself a bit too accomodating to Hussein's erratic behavior. Hussein clearly imagines himself still president of Iraq. From the Yahoo News story:
When the [new] judge [Abdel-Rahman] ordered guards to remove him, Saddam — holding a Quran under his arm — became indignant, saying he was choosing to go and referring to his time in power.
"For 35 years I led you, and you say, 'Eject him?'" Saddam said.
"I am a judge and you are a defendant," Abdel-Rahman replied. "And you have violated order in the court. I am implementing the law."
I'm sure Hussein will not quit, however, nor will his unseemly defense team. Hussein will keep energetically trying to derail the proceedings. But as the expression goes, he can rest when he's dead.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 29, 2006, at the time of 4:38 PM
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The following hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin
May his rest come soon.
The above hissed in response by: Stephen Macklin at January 29, 2006 5:13 PM
The following hissed in response by: John Sobieski
That previous judge reminded of Judge Ito of the Simpson trial, i.e., unsure if it was HIS courtroom.
The sooner this is over and they are dead, the better.
The above hissed in response by: John Sobieski at January 29, 2006 7:28 PM
The following hissed in response by: Jabba the Tutt
Some newsbabe said the trial became chaotic. She didn't get it, it was the beginning of the end of the trial chaos. I say if necessary, put Saddam gagged and in chains to listen to the witnesses. Gag and chain them all, if that is what it takes. Put Assad and the Iranian Mullahs on notice as to what's in their future.
The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist
i like this new Judge Abdel-Rahman also, and the Iraqis made a good move by insisting that Saddam be treated like a normal defendant, instead of some 'sPeCiAl' defendant running his foul mouth in the Court Room. Saddam is getting more Justice than he ever allow the Iraqis to get under he rule. Even here in America, a defendant does not have to be in the Court Room during a trial, and there is plenty of evidence to convict him before the Court starts bringing out Saddam's collection of videos.
*DURN*!?! Sorry, but humble me just went through another Déjà vu moment...nice word, but Déjà vu moments can become a pain after the first 1-million of them. Hold on, i need to regroup...ummmmmmmmmmmmmm OM...Om...Om...Om...Om...Om...Om...Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
OK, i am back. Video was new technology back in 1968...the FBI had been using it...the City of Miami Police Department had basically just got it, so former President Richard M. Nixon certainly had access to such technology, but he apparently chose reel-to-reel tape technology instead...so to speak.
Obviously, Saddam did not learn from Nixon's mistake, huh. Saddam wanted to know about everything that went on in Iraq, and insisted that "meticulous" records be kept. Enters Stephen F. Hayes of The Weekly Standard, documents, and 2 million "exploitable items" in the possession of the U.S. government...with only "some 50,000" having been examined, so far. i suspect that Saddam's video collection isn't included in that mass of documents, so imagine how much video there must be.
Judge Abdel-Rahman...here's a Karmic Hint; 'Hang him in the Court Room, or at least duct tape his mouth shut and make him stay in the Court Room.'
The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist at January 30, 2006 5:04 PM
The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist
Judge Ito did a great job, and made it clear to those in the "courtroom" that the Court Room was *HIS*. A main witness (the lead cop, in fact, if i recall correctly) was caught lying, cops tampered with evidence (at best), and prosecutors were busy having sex...on 'Da side, and etcetera.
Anyway, we're "talking apples and oranges" here, as in there was no evidence against "OJ", but mountain ranges of evidence against Saddam...so to speak.
(PS...i am White, and was once a City of Miami Police Officer.)
The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist at January 30, 2006 5:26 PM
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