History

Saddam Hussein’s Lawyers Say American Advisers Influenced Trial, Pressured Defence

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BAGHDAD The defence team of executed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein told Russian media that American advisers took an active part in the death trial, instructed the judges on which decisions to make, and pressured the lawyers.

‘Yes, I think there were American advisers in a room next to the judge and there was a door between them. I believe a lot has not been made public. In the sense that the judge received instructions from those Americans. They told him what to look for and what to reconsider. It seemed that he (the presiding judge) was receiving orders, as sometimes he came back and retracted earlier decisions. There were advisers who tried to lure us to join them. But we refused’, Muhammad Munib, one of Hussein’s defence lawyers, said.

At the start of the trial, the defence lawyers were unaware of the US direct involvement until an American lawyer tipped them off, who wanted to help the captured president’s defence team, Munib noted. When the fact became known, the defence tried to raise the issue in court, but the other side denied everything, he said.

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Another defence lawyer, Bushra Khalil, told the media that she personally experienced intense pressure from the American side. ‘Honestly, I was scared that they (Americans) would kill me, since several lawyers were killed, with Khamis Obeidi being the last.

‘Several times the judge took me out of the room. The last time it happened an American approached me and asked if I wanted to go back in, and we talked from 6 to 11, and at the end, he asked me again if I wanted to return to court and I said yes. Then he told me I should stay quiet, like my friends. This suggests that they did everything to keep the trial staged’, she said.

The way the trial was held violated the basic principles of international law, and everyone was clear on its outcome from the very beginning, including Hussein, Munib said. The doomed defendant was prevented from speaking out. He was not even granted the right to final words, and the tribunal took place in Iraq so that the court could legally impose the death penalty, the lawyer explained.

In this file photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2003, an Iraqi man, bottom right, watches Cpl. Edward Chin of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, cover the face of a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag before toppling the statue in downtown in Baghdad, Iraq.
© AP Photo / Jerome Delay

‘There is no doubt that this was not a trial in the literal and academic sense. All the foundations of justice were definitely absent. Our [defence] goal was to let the whole world know that these Arab people want to reveal the truth of what happened and we tried to do everything we could’, Munib said.

The first chief judge in Saddam’s trial, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, who had to step down due to government interference, confirmed to non-Western media that the United States oversaw the trial.

A photo released by Iraqi Press Agency 02 April shows President Saddam Hussein waving to supporters during his visit to the town of Kirkuk north of Baghdad.
© AFP 2021 / INA

Saddam Hussein managed to avoid capture for six months after the United States invaded Iraq on the pretext of searching for weapons of mass destruction in 2003. In December of that year, he was finally arrested near his hometown of Tikrit.

The first hearing of the special tribunal took place in July 2004. The court found Saddam Hussein guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging on November 5, 2006. Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006. Source

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