Saddam Hussein has ended his boycott of his trial for genocide against the Kurds of Iraq. However, people can be forgiven if they had not heard of his extended absence from the courtroom, because it started the day before his return. One day after announcing he would not attend the proceedings because of repeated “insults”, the former dictator surprised everyone by dutifully taking his place in the dock:
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has appeared in court, despite saying a day earlier that he would refuse to attend further hearings of his genocide trial.
On Tuesday, he had said he could no longer put up with “continued insults” by the chief judge and prosecutors. …
He entered the courtroom smiling, and took his place to hear a Kurdish medical worker describe how he treated victims of gas attacks in 1987.
Of course he was smiling. He can’t pass up an opportunity to put himself at the center of attention, nor can he allow the testimony in the trial to grab all the headlines. He complained in his letter announcing his boycott that he hadn’t had an opportunity to defend himself regarding the Anfal campaign against the Kurds — but the prosecution hadn’t yet ended its case against him. His turn still awaits, as he well knows.
The testimony has thus far been devastating. Saddam left enough people alive to testify to the atrocities in the north, including the infamous and cowardly chemical-weapons attack at Halabja that left thousands of women and children dead, and thousands more disfigured and sickened for life. Saddam wants to avert attention from the witnesses, so just as in his first trial, he conjures up a few antics to make his sideshow the big news instead of his victims.
Sadly, it’s not really necessary. The only headlines the trials get any more is from Saddam’s antics. The Western media lost interest long ago, well before Saddam got the death penalty in the first trial. They have treated the trial of one of the worst dictators in modern times — the only one who used WMD on his own people — into a footnote instead of the opportunity to reveal the depredations of a brutal, murderous tyranny that it is.