Prosecutors in the trial of Saddam Hussein managed to move their case along in today’s session, now that new court management has dealt with the disruptive tactics by the defense. Not that this shocks anyone, but the prosecution proved that Saddam himself ordered the deaths of 148 citizens of Dujail without trial as retribution for the assassination attempt on his life:
Prosecutors at Saddam Hussein’s trial presented a document Tuesday they said was signed by the former leader approving the executions of more than 140 Shiites in southern Iraq after an assassination attempt in the 1980s. …
The document was among several presented by chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi concerning the killings of Shiites from the town of Dujail in 1982.
A memo from the Revolutionary Court, dated June 14, 1984, announced that 148 suspects had been sentenced to death by hanging and listed their names. The prosecutor said the signature on the memo was that of the court’s head, Awad al-Bandar, one of Saddam’s co-defendants.
A document dated two days later was a presidential order approving all 148 death sentences. The paper was signed by Saddam, al-Moussawi said, displaying the document with the signature on a screen in the court room.
None of these people ever stood trial; none had the opportunity to challenge Saddam’s death order. He simply wanted them dead and signed the order that gave him what he wanted. One hundred forty-eight men and women went to their deaths to slake Saddam’s thirst for revenge. And this is just one incident from over twenty years ago.
Now that the former judge has been retired in favor of one that has much less patience with disruptions, the trial may actually prove beneficial to the Iraqis. Until now, Saddam has had free reign of the press, overshadowing the evidence and testimony provided at this trial, undoubtedly part of his strategy. Hermann Goering tried a similar tactic at Nuremberg, using his swagger and a surprising intellect to confound and frustrate the tribunal … for a while. Georing eventually found himself drowned in a flood of meticulous Nazi paperwork and the witnesses that even the murderously efficient Gestapo could not entirely eliminate.
The Goering option now being closed, Saddam will have little influence over the course of this trial. His hunger strike failed when he got hungry, and his defense team returned when they discovered that the Iraqis would proceed without them. All that will be left will be Saddam’s monstrous record of barbarity, and that will remind Iraqis what they can expect in return for an abandonment of democracy.