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Ramsey Clarke Joins Saddam’s Defense Team

I guess the only question is, what took him so long. From Reuters:

Clark joins Saddam’s defense team

Sun Nov 27, 2005 9:22 AM ET

By Luke Baker

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants resumes in a fortified Baghdad courtroom on Monday with former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark joining the team defending Iraq’s overthrown president.

Clark, a controversial figure who was the top U.S. attorney in the late 1960s before becoming an anti-Vietnam war activist and a defender of figures including Slobodan Milosevic, said he hoped to strengthen Saddam’s defense.

"Our plan is to go to court in Baghdad on Monday morning representing the defense counsel as defense support," Clark told Reuters in Amman on Sunday before flying to the Iraqi capital.

"A fair trial in this case is absolutely imperative for historical truth," the 77-year-old said.

"It is absolutely essential that the court is legal in its constitution. A court cannot be a court unless it is absolutely independent of all external pressures and forces."

Clark will be joined by the former justice minister of Qatar, Najeeb al-Nauimi, lending an international aspect to proceedings which have until now been entirely Iraqi-run.

It was not clear if the chief judge of the trial, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, would allow Clark and Nauimi into his courtroom, but a spokeswoman for the defense team said their attendance had already been approved by U.S. advisers to the court.

The trial began on October 19 but is resuming after a 40-day adjournment, granted to give the defense team more time to prepare for a trial involving charges of crimes against humanity.

Most of the break has been taken up with security issues after one defense lawyer was murdered the day after the trial began and another in early November, throwing proceedings into chaos. A third defense lawyer has fled Iraq after death threats.

Saddam and the others are accused of ordering and carrying out the deaths of 148 men from the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, following a failed attempt on Saddam’s life in 1982.

The lawyers still involved in representing the eight defendants have agreed to return to court only after security promises were made, although the details of the protections that are being afforded to them have not been revealed.

Khalil Dulaimi, Saddam’s chief lawyer, told Reuters last week that one of the reasons he had decided to return was because the Iraqi High Tribunal, the U.S.-funded body running the trial, had said it would appoint its own "stand-by" defense attorneys if the regular defense team failed to show up.


Monday is expected to move the trial into a dramatic new phase as witnesses take the stand for the first time. With security at a premium, at least some of the prosecution testimony will be given from behind a protective screen.

Death threats have already been made against some witnesses, residents of Dujail told a Reuters cameraman there on Saturday.

The trial is expected to continue for at least three days, although the judge will also be asked to consider defense motions for another adjournment. One defense lawyer told Reuters that the team would seek a further three-month postponement.

Even if the trial does proceed without delay this week, it is widely expected that it will be adjourned in early December as the country prepares for national elections.

As well as the assassinations of the two defense lawyers, others involved in the trial have been targeted by insurgents.

An Iraqi police chief told Reuters on Sunday that eight men had been detained in the northern city of Kirkuk and had confessed to plotting to kill Raed Jouhi, the chief investigator of the tribunal who built the case against Saddam.

Colonel Anwar Khader Mohammed said the men were seized four days ago. He said they were found with bomb-making equipment, maps, and a letter from Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam’s former top deputy, urging them to track down and kill Jouhi.

Jouhi has already survived one attempt on his life. He and other members of the tribunal, including the five-judge panel and the chief prosecutor, are tightly protected.

Human rights and justice groups say they doubt the ability of the trial to proceed freely and fairly under such precarious security conditions. They will be in court observing the trial on Monday.

At least Ramsey Clark is consistent. Clark has always hated this country with a purple passion. And he has always sided with its enemies.

From an August 3, 1995 interview in the Wall Street Journal with a former North Vietnamese Colonel, Bui Tin:

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi’s victory?

A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

He was ever thus.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, November 27th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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