Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hussein Trial Judge Submits Resignation

Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, the head judge in the Hussein trial and the only one publicly identified, submitted his resignation citing "personal reasons". He denied being under government pressure to resign, however he has been under increased criticism over the way he has handled the trial. Many believe he has allowed the trial to spin out of control. (USA Today: Tribunal confirms Saddam judge wants out).

That Amin has been unable to keep order in his courtroom cannot be questioned. Hussein has repeatedly been responsible for disruptive outbursts that have made a mockery of the trial. Amin has been unable to control Hussein's outbursts and has yet to impose any penalty for the disruptions. Certainly nothing that has occurred in this trial would be permissible in a US court.

Given the inexperience of the fledgling Iraqi judicial system, it seems quite clear that they are incapable of conducting this trial. Not only do they not have justices with the experience necessary to maintain order in such a high profile case, but they are also incapable of providing for the security of all parties involved in each of the trials. There have already been several assassinations, and attorneys have already resigned due to death threats.

This is precisely the reason a trial of this nature is normally conducted by a military tribunal comprised of the victors. That is what should have happened in the Hussein case. There is sufficient precedent to permit such a trial, and moving it off-shore would guarantee the safety and security of all involved. Instead, there was a feeble attempt to add the illusion of legitimacy to the trial by having the Iraqi people conduct it. The way this has been handled, however, has paved the way for all sorts of criticisms regarding the legitimacy, the fairness, and the authority of the court.

Amin's resignation is certainly a positive development. He is far too incompetent to conduct this trial. While I doubt a more competent judge will be found in Iraq given the history of their judicial system and the grave security concerns surrounding this trial, they would be hard pressed to find anyone worse than Amin. It's too late now to turn this over to a military tribunal, unfortunately, so we're going to have to make the best of what's left. Hopefully, this trial will end soon, Hussein will be found guilty, and his execution will be swift. I would hate to think we're going to have to go through this travesty all over again for the next set of charges.

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