7.11.06

UN judicial expert slams Saddam trial, urges international court

JURIST - Paper Chase:

UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Leandro Despouy Monday delivered his own scathing verdict on the Iraqi trial process which led over the weekend to a death sentence for ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, urging the rapid establishment of an international tribunal to either reopen the proceeding or consider an appeal process. Cataloging the weaknesses of the Iraqi High Tribunal, Despouy said in a lengthy statement from Geneva that he was especially concerned about such things as:

* Its doubtful legitimacy and credibility. The tribunal has been established during an occupation considered by many as illegal, is composed of judges who have been selected during this occupation, including non Iraqi citizens, and has been mainly financed by the United States....

* The negative impact of the violence and the insecurity prevailing in the course of the trial and in the country. Since its beginning one of the judges, five candidate judges, three defence lawyers and an employee of the tribunal have been killed. Moreover, another employee of the tribunal has been seriously injured.

* Finally, and most importantly, the lack of observance of a legal framework that conforms to international human rights principles and standards, in particular the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal which upholds the right to a defence.

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