Where’s the Verdict in Saddam’s Trial?
I noted a couple of weeks ago that the Iraqi High Tribunal’s failure to release the written verdict at the same time that it announced Saddam’s conviction was strong evidence that, despite my earlier skepticism, the announcement was timed to influence the U.S. elections. Well, the written verdict still has not been publicly released — making the inference of political gerrymandering essentially unassailable.
Apparently, the written verdict exists and has been provided to the Cassation Panel. But it has not been published — and has not been given to the defense, much to their concern:
Saddam’s defense team complained on Wednesday that despite “repeated requests” it had not received a copy of the verdict so that it could begin work on an appeal and lodge it with the court within the 30-day deadline after the November 5 verdict.
Chief counsel Khalil al-Dulaimi accused the Iraqi High Tribunal, the court that tried Saddam and seven others for crimes against humanity, of “pursuing its continued efforts to obstruct the efforts of the defense to submit a legal … appeal against the unjust verdicts.”
The IHT’s response? You can read the verdict on our website:
The court’s chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Moussawi, told Reuters on Thursday it had been decided not to print the verdict, which runs to hundreds of pages, but to publish it on the tribunal’s Web site, which appeared to be down on Thursday.
When told that the defense team was complaining they still did not have a copy of the verdict 10 days after it was announced, he said they could read it on the Web site.
“We cannot publish all these pages and deliver it to all the lawyers. Legally, nothing prevents us from delivering the verdict on the Web site,” he said.
He said he was unsure whether it had been posted on the Web site but an official at the court’s information centre said it would probably only appear next week. The official was unable to give a reason for the delay.
It is difficult to imagine a more dramatic example of the IHT’s complete disdain for defendants’ rights. The defense team now has less than two weeks to lodge its appeal.
And, of course, the IHT’s website is still down.