If the court brings down a death sentence on Saddam Hussein, the international community will be shocked
Saddam Hussein, the overthrown Iraqi dictator, who slaughtered thousands of his country-people, still remains the symbol of the hurt national pride for many of the Iraqis. World news agencies provided an extensive coverage of the recent court session in Baghdad, at which Hussein refused to plead guilty to the charges. The USA, which initiated the process, does not have any doubts about the legitimacy of the trial. Saddam's lawyers, however, refer to the trial as a political show. Does the trial of Saddam Hussein correspond to international legal norms? Who needs this trial and will it escalate the uneasy situation in the war-torn Iraq?
Georgy Mirsky, the Doctor of History from the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that the trial of the former Iraqi dictator does not comply with international legal norms: the process takes place in the occupied country, where the war still continues. “A lot of Iraqi people need this trial. Iraq has been split into two. Those, who stand up against Saddam, want him to be judged before the war ends. All the Kurds, whom I had a chance to meet, said that they would be ready to kill Saddam with their own hands. Sunnis believe, of course, that he is the one legal president of Iraq,” Mirsky said.
”The trial started with an episode of massive manslaughter in a Kurdish village. Saddam has been charged with crimes against humanity, which he committed as the Iraqi president. Does it make any sense that Hussein will be judged according to the charter of the international tribunal of 2002, since he committed his crimes a lot earlier?
”It is hard to find any documents about murder, signed by Saddam Hussein. If he was not the person, who ordered to start the bombing, will it be possible to judge him for it? The trial is needed for other dictators of the world so that they could see how their regime may end. If Hussein carries responsibility for his crimes, other tyrants may hesitate about their immunity.
”The trial is obviously needed for the USA. Once Saddam Hussein is found guilty of the charges, the trial will justify the US-led incursion in Iraq, at least to a certain extent. President Bush acknowledged that the USA failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although he is certain that the occupation and the arrest of Saddam Hussein have brought a lot of good to Iraq.
”The trial is not likely to last for years. Hussein obviously deserves death sentence for the crimes, although one should not exclude a possibility of life imprisonment, taking into consideration current sentiments against the practice of death penalty in the world today,” the expert said.
Alexander Sharavin, the Director of the Institute of Military and Political Analysis, sticks to another opinion regarding the issue of the Saddam Hussein trial. Sharavin is certain that international legal norms can not be applied to the process against the former Iraqi dictator. “He used weapons against the people of his own country. He ordered to kill 5,000 people in only one day in Kurdistan. Therefore, he should be convicted of those horrendous crimes and punished for them,” Sharavin said.
According to the expert, lifetime imprisonment for Saddam Hussein is quite possible. “It is up for the Iraqi nation to determine the seriousness of the punishment. The common agreement on the matter is extremely important at this point. The absence of this factor may lead to lamentable consequences to Iraq. The compromise, which should meet integral interests of the entire Iraqi community, is absolutely necessary. I believe that Hussein will be sentenced to 20 or 30 years in jail and that will the end of the story,” Alexander Sharavin said.
Boris Makarenko, the first deputy director of the center for political technologies, believes that the formal correspondence of the Saddam Hussein trial to international legal norms is not really important at all. “Saddam is obviously a bloody criminal. The majority of Iraqis do not feel sorry for him. There is also a minority, although it is a rather large minority: those who criticize the occupation, who still consider Saddam their leader, because he is a Sunni, etc. Furthermore, Arabs do not like the fact that there is a Kurdish judge presiding over the court. All those people cast doubts upon the legitimacy of the trial from the point of view of its justice,” Makarenko thinks.
”Peaceful and not really peaceful protests are quite possible to occur in the near future. It is not ruled out that Saddam Hussein can be canonized if the court sentences him to death penalty. Iraq is occupied by the international coalition. Death penalty is possible according to Iraqi and US laws, but it is excluded according to British laws, for example. There is already a debate in Great Britain on the matter. As long as Iraq is a sovereign state, the court should bring a death sentence on Hussein. Such a result will shock the international community – world leaders will probably bring harsh criticism against the US administration. If there is no death sentence at the end of the trial, it will mean that Iraq and its “independent court” are being supervised and guided from the outside. The USA shouldn't have captured Saddam Hussein alive,” Boris Makarenko concluded.