Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Wikinews interviews Lawrence Douglas, Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, on questions of the fairness and credibility of the Saddam Hussein trial, and the purpose, conduct and impact of courts trying international law crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Prof. Douglas is the author of The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2001), an acclaimed study of war crimes trials. His writing has appeared in venues including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and The New Yorker, and he is a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.
The trial of Saddam Hussein
On November 5, 2006, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.
The charges relate to the reprisal killings of 148 people, following a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein in 1982 in the town of Dujail.
The year-long trial saw witnesses, including a former Iraqi intelligence officer who investigated the assassination attempt, testify of imprisonment, torture and the execution of 148 villagers. Documents and a recording of a telephone conversation were presented linking Saddam with the executions. Defense lawyers questioned the validity of the court, disputed the prosecution’s account of the events and claimed that the executions were legal.
The trial saw frequent outbursts from the defendants and clashes between defense attorneys and judges. Three members of the defense team were murdered during the course of the trial, and the defense accused prosecutors of attempting to bribe witnesses. The chief judge of the court resigned in January over differences with Iraqi authorities over the conduct of the trial.