Saddam For the Defense?

You don't see this every day. The Associated Press is reporting this morning that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein will be allowed to testify as a witness for one of his co-defendants in the case. The reason? The co-defendant, Taha Yassin Ramadan, told the judge he has no other witnesses to call on his own behalf to refute charges that he was not in the Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982 when, prosecutors say, the government massacred some of its citizens.

You'd never see this occur in an American court but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be happening in this trial in Baghdad. In the U.S. it is inconceivable that a capital defendant would not have any witnesses to call other than another capital defendant. Such a situation almost automatically would raise questions about the competency of the lawyers in the case (both sets of attorneys!) But why not let Saddam testify in this non-jury trial that is more about history and politics than it is about law?

Saddam is not a credible witness, of course, for himself or anyone else. But if he has something relevant to say about the chain of command in Dujail or about Ramadan's role, if any, in the crime then the judge would be remiss in not letting him take the stand. "I know no one from Dujail," Ramadan reportedly told the judge. "Should I go there and ask around for people who can confirm that I was there or not? My witnesses are here with us." If I'm the prosecutor in the case, the first thing I say in response is that many of Ramadan's witnesses probably were killed during the massacre that has brought all these sorry characters to this place and time.

By  |  May 17, 2006; 8:45 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Why do you think the show trials of Saddam H. and his cohort by their political enemies and the US has anything to do with justice?

To me, it appears only to be about winners' revenge on losers.

Potemkin trials like these are a disgrace.

Posted by: Daniel Millstone | May 17, 2006 09:34 AM

Daniel, you're an idiot.

Posted by: Erik | May 17, 2006 02:38 PM

From where I'm standing, you look like an idiot.

Posted by: Erik | May 17, 2006 04:18 PM

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