Archive for Monday, December 15, 2003

Iraqis want Saddam tried in Baghdad

December 15, 2003


— The interim Iraqi government said Sunday it wanted to try Saddam Hussein before a special tribunal, but a human rights group voiced deep concern about the legitimacy of the newly established panel.

The United States reserved judgment.

Iraq's new leaders want Saddam to face the tribunal they established last week specifically to hear cases involving leading members of the Saddam regime accused of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

"We will deal with Saddam Hussein," said Adnan Pachachi, a member of the 25-seat interim Governing Council. "He was an unjust ruler responsible for the deaths of thousands of people."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said the American-led coalition must still decide on Saddam's status.

"At this point, that has not been determined. We continue to process Saddam at this point in time, and those issues will be resolved in the near future," Sanchez told reporters at the coalition's Baghdad headquarters.

Before Saddam's capture, top U.S. officials in Baghdad had privately acknowledged the former dictator likely would be handed over to the new Iraqi government to stand trial.

Amnesty International, however, criticized the new Iraqi tribunal as flawed. It demanded that Saddam -- as commander in chief of Iraq's armed forces -- be classified as a prisoner of war.

The legal codes for the new, five-judge tribunal, were based on international law, including existing U.N. war crimes tribunals -- such as those for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia -- and those used by the International Criminal Court.

The newly established tribunal is expected to try cases stemming from mass executions of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, as well as the suppression of uprisings by Kurds and Shiite Muslims soon after the 1991 Gulf War.

It also will try cases committed against Iran -- Iraq's enemy in a bloody 1980-88 war -- and against Kuwait, which Iraq invaded in 1990, sparking the Gulf War.

The Governing Council decree establishing the tribunal left a final decision on using the death penalty to a transitional government scheduled to assume full sovereignty by July 1.

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