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Saturday, January 20, 2007


The recent hangings in Iraq - the forgotten victim

I've written several times (e.g., here) about the hanging of Saddam Hussein. Most people who pay attention to things like this probably know that the second person hanged was Saddam's half-brother and former intelligence chief, Barzam al-Tikriti, sometimes described as "one of the most feared men in Iraq." But what about the third victim of U.S. "justice"? That was a man named Awad Hamad al-Bandar, who was the judge in the two-year trial which resulted in the conviction and eventual hanging of 148 men for the attempted assassination of Saddam Hussein. His "crime" was signing the death warrants of 148 people, 4 fewer than signed by George Bush while he was governor of Texas.

One of Judge Bandar's lawyer's, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, has written an extremely informative article about the trial and execution of Judge Bandar (and the others), containing the kind of material you simply aren't going to read in the corporate media, which I highly recommend to readers.

A few excerpts: When Verheyden-Hilliard and other lawyers petitioned for a stay of transfer of Bandar from U.S. custody to his Iraqi executioners, the U.S. government claimed it lacked jurisdiction because Bandar wasn't being held by the U.S., but by the "Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I)"! As Verheyden-Hilliard writes:

This may be news to you, news to most of the world; especially news to the Iraqis.

That assertion may be news even to General George W. Casey, Jr., identified as the commander of MNF-I who has said repeatedly that he is subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and that the MNF-I is "a subordinate command to CENTCOM." Asked in his Senate confirmation hearing whether there would be any limits on CENTCOM’s authority due to the international nature of the MNF-I, he replied that there were "none at all." He added, there is "no reporting chain that goes back to the United Nations. … My chain of command is through the secretary of defense and the President."

The U.S. war machine, which has already sought to exempt itself from restraint or accountability worldwide, has now untethered itself from the one last legal hold on it, the U.S. courts. By so doing, it asserts that the U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction to address claims lodged against it. It can take up arms anywhere against any civilians, capture, hold them, torture them, have them killed, and merely by renaming itself can eliminate any threat of judicial oversight or intervention.
Some interesting facts about the trial itself:
Judge Bandar...was convicted of the "crime" of having been the presiding judge over a two-year-long trial against those accused in the assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein at Dujail in 1982, during the Iran-Iraq war. That was his accused crime, being the judge at the trial. Yet, the Court refused to allow Judge Bandar to access or present the record of the underlying trial. He repeatedly pled, "Give me the records of the trial and I’ll prove that it was fair." He was not allowed to have them, nor was the prosecution required to present them. The U.S. government was acknowledged to possess those records.
Further about the trial:
Making it clear that the Iraqi Special Tribunal possessed the best knowledge of the form and function of a show trial, the defense was not advised what charges were actually being leveled against their clients until after the prosecution had called witnesses for seven months. They were then given a few minutes to begin their case.

In the midst of the defense trial, after receiving a written note passed to him from American officials outside the courtroom, the Chief Judge suddenly announced that the defense would be barred from calling any more witnesses and that its case was closed. "You’ve presented 26 witnesses. If that is not enough to present your case, then 100 won’t work." The defense had presented less than 20.
There's lots more. It's long, but well worth reading.

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