Global Policy Forum

Trials for Saddam Regime Members to Start


By Jason Keyser

Associated Press
February 9, 2005

Trials for members of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime will begin in several weeks before an Iraqi tribunal that could hand down sentences of death by hanging or firing squad, a Western legal expert familiar with the process said Wednesday. Investigative judges are close to handing over lengthy dossiers of affidavits, witness statements and other documents to a five-judge chamber that will run the trials, the legal expert said on condition of anonymity. He would not say which of Saddam's 11 lieutenants were likely to face the Iraqi Special Tribunal first and it was unclear when Saddam would stand trial.

In December, investigative judges summoned Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, for his role in poison gas attacks against Iraq's Kurdish minority and former Defense Minister Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad to appear before them in closed-door preliminary hearings. Saddam and many former Baath Party members have been jailed for more than a year. U.S. military officials transferred the 12 defendants to Iraqi custody in June with the transfer of sovereignty.

In July, a judge told the group they were under investigation for war crimes. In Saddam's case, he was informed that court officials were investigating him in the killings of rival politicians, the gassing of the Kurds in 1988, invading Kuwait in 1990 and brutally suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991. Formal charges will not come until the investigating judges refer the cases to the trial chamber. The first dossiers are expected to be delivered to trial judges within several weeks, the legal expert said. ``I can't give you an exact timeframe, but I'm talking weeks for this to begin,'' he said. ``I would say a few weeks, give or take.''

Video cameras and reporters will be allowed into the courtroom, and there will be a limited number of seats for the public in a viewing gallery behind bulletproof glass. Unlike the common-law court system in the United States, the Iraqi tribunal will have no jury, and the verdicts and sentencing will be handed down through a majority decision of the five-judge panel. The court will hear from victims, witnesses, a state prosecutor, defense witnesses and, in some cases, the defendants themselves. Defendants have the right to appeal the verdict to a nine-judge appellate chamber.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the Iraq Tribunal
More Information on International Criminal Tribunals and Special Courts


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.