Helena Cobban has LOTS on Saddam's trial -- what Chalabi wants from it, and lessons from Slobo-gate. Link at the end:
There were two piece in today's Iraqi Press Monitor related to the plans to try Saddam Hussein.
One, from the independent daily Al-Sabah said this:
"Iraq for All" news network was informed that the Cabinet has decided to dismiss Salim al-Chalabi, the man chose to chair the special court to try Saddam Hussein. The decision results from demands to move Saddam's trial out of Iraq, which Chalabi opposed. An arrest warrant was recently issued for Chalabi...
That sounded pretty intriguing. Chalabi opposed moving the trial outside of Iraq? Has that possibility really been discussed, I wonder? Or was it some kind of a bungled rendering of the idea of "extending the purview of the trial beyond acts committed inside Iraq" that the report was referring to, instead?
That might have been what the discussion was about--given the other recent news that the Iraqis have been trying to urge Iran not to press its own strong case against Saddam for war crimes--and also, given the degree of Iraqi-nationalist opposition to the idea of including the Kuwaitis' claims against him on the charge-sheet.
The other IPM piece related to an article in yesterday's al-Sharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily published in London. Since this paper has a good online edition, I was able to go over to the original article there to read it. (Which also let me get a bead on the accuracy of IPM's highly abbreviated rendering of it in English: fairly good, I would say, but still some room for improvement...)
Anyway, here's what IPM said:
Confidential sources told Asharq al-Awsat that intensive meetings are underway to name the judges of Saddam Hussein's trial. The procedures of the trial would be completed shortly. The trial would include Saddam and some of the leaders in the former regime. The trial would be conducted in accordance with Iraqi law. Prosecution witnesses would include Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Safiya al-Suhail, daughter of the late Talib al-Suhail who was assassinated in Beirut under Saddam?s orders. Tarik Aziz and Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi reportedly have shown willingness to testify against Saddam.
I was interested in the reference to the kind of timetable they are aiming at. Trying to "think like Karl Rove" once again, I figured maybe Negropontra might have given the Allawi government orders to try to have Saddam's trial open before November 2...
But apparently not so. In the Sharq al-Awsat original, they spelled out that the trial is planned to to take place "during the first three months of next year" and to deal with the cases of only some but not all of the arrested members of the former regime.
As for the idea of Iyad Allawi being a prosecution witness? It strikes me as strange, and a little over-personalizing of the whole trial...
Meanwhile, over in The Hague, I note that ICTY last week decided to "assign" legal representation to Milosevic against his will. (They don't like to call what they're doing there "imposing" a lawyer on him, but that's what it was.)
Ian Johnson of the International Campaign to Defend Slobodan Milosevic is crying "foul".
A petition being organized by the campaign, argues that:
The right to defend oneself against criminal charges is central in both international law and in the very structure of the adversarial system. The fundamental, minimum rights provided to a defendant under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as under the Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, include the right to defend oneself in person...
In the long history of British criminal jurisprudence, there was only one tribunal that ever adopted a practice of forcing counsel upon an unwilling defendant in a criminal proceeding. The tribunal was the Star Chamber...
Johnson also noted in his on-line opinion piece that while one of the two people previously appointed by the bench to act as "amici curiae" on Sloboa's behalf in the trial, British barrister Steven Kay, has agreed to be one of the new "assigned"/imposed defense attorneys, the other former amicus, Branislav Tapuskovic, has refused to take up that role.
In the Sept. 3rd order that the ICTY trial chamber issued to regulate how Kay and his assigned co-counsel (and daughter) Gillian Higgins should act, Slobo still has a few, heavily curtailed rights he can exercize in the conduct of the case-- but just about all the real decisionmaking regarding its conduct will now be turned over to Kay.
Here's what the order says:
1. It is the duty of court assigned counsel to determine how to present the case for the Accused, and in particular it is their duty to:
1. represent the Accused by preparing and examining those witnesses court assigned counsel deem it appropriate to call;
2. make all submissions on fact and law that they deem it appropriate to make;
3. seek from the Trial Chamber such orders as they consider necessary to enable them to present the Accused?s case properly, including the issuance of subpoenas;
4. discuss with the Accused the conduct of the case, endeavour to obtain his instructions thereon and take account of views expressed by the Accused, while retaining the right to determine what course to follow; and
5. act throughout in the best interests of the Accused;
2. The Accused may, with the leave of the Trial Chamber, continue to participate actively in the conduct of his case, including, where appropriate, examining witnesses, following examination by court assigned counsel;
3. The Accused has the right, at any time, to make a reasonable request to the Trial Chamber to consider allowing him to appoint counsel; and
4. Court assigned counsel is authorised to seek from the Trial Chamber such further orders as they deem necessary to enable them to conduct the case for the Accused.
...Well, I just put these two items about these two now-accused former heads of state together because it's really interesting to me how the people who run western ethno-justice court systems try to adapt them to these highly political types of proceedings.
Will Saddam be allowed to defend himself? Will he be "assigned" counsel not of his own choosing?
This all seems quite a fair distance from the heady days of the Nuremberg trial, when at least those trials were part of an intelligent broader plan for the rehabilitation and political rebuilding of the recently conquered land of Germany. In our present highly over-lawyerized days, by contrast, holding these high-profile trials too often seems like a substitute for the broader, well-ordered plan...