» Thursday, July 1, 2004

Saddam Hussein

Asked if the Prime Minister had been “paying any attention” to Saddam Hussein’s appearance in an Iraqi court today, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister was obviously aware that Saddam had been in court today. The Iraqi people knew what Saddam had done, as indeed did Saddam himself. The important thing was that they had seen the beginning of a transparent judicial process, something that hadn’t been possible under the previous regime. Asked if the Prime Minister was satisfied at the way the whole process had been conducted, the PMOS said that as he had told journalists earlier this week, it was essential that people changed their mindsets and recognised that Iraq was now a sovereign country. That meant that it would do things its own way. The underlying message in today’s proceedings was the fact that the new Iraqi Government was committed to a transparent judicial process, which was something that had not been possible under Saddam’s rule. Asked if he was implying that the British Government would have preferred the new Iraqi Government to have acted differently on various issues, the PMOS said no. He had simply been making the point that it was important for people to recognise that, as a sovereign country, Iraq was entitled to do things its own way. That said, it should be noted that the new Government had committed themselves to a transparent judicial process, which was clearly something to be welcomed. Asked if we would accede to the Iraqi Government’s intention to impose the death penalty on Saddam were they to take such a decision, the PMOS said that as he had told journalists yesterday, it was no secret that we were opposed to the death penalty and we had conveyed that view to the Iraqi Government, as you would expect. Ultimately, however, Iraq now had its own judicial process and it was important for people to recognise that that was the case.

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  1. If the Prime Minister had been "paying any attention" to Saddam Hussein’s appearance, Mr Blair could well have thought he was looking at an impostor – cf. editorial in the Tehran Times of 01/07/2004:

    "Is this the real Saddam? Will he be tried in a fair court? Is it another ruse to manipulate public opinion? Could it be a US stratagem meant to ease the spate of aspersions raining down on them from all across the world every day? Is it not true that Saddam had many doubles? Could this man be one of them? These are all questions which may occur to any inquisitive mind. After all Saddam’s trial serves as the best diversion from the US lies over WMD in Iraq…"

    Admittedly, the beard had been trimmed though not in his earlier style but the bushy eyebrows still obscured a presidential mole near the left eye.

    Then there is the dental evidence. The real President Hussein has (or had) ‘overbite’ a common condition where his upper teeth close in front of his lower teeth. Whereas the man in court appeared to have the reverse condition or ‘underbite’, as it is known.

    The corpulent President suddenly becomes the slender accused. This, we are told, was achieved by his working out for two hours a day and thus losing over a stone in weight.

    He has not been allowed access to his legal representatives. Could this be because lawyers are trained to spot a fake a mile off? But then Tony Blair, with his barrister background, would be well aware of all this if he had been "paying any attention", that is!

    Comment by Patrick Haseldine — 5 Jul 2004 on 4:30 pm | Link
  2. Lawyers’ grounds for that statement are:
    – They have not been granted international protection needed to visit from their location in Amman, Jordan to Iraq, where they believe they risk their lives by visiting;
    – Furthermore, the death threads made include death threats by the new Iraqi government themselves, so Iraqi protection is not considered enough;
    – Furthermore, they cannot be officially recognized as the defense attorneys in the case until Saddam signs power of attorney, which he has not done.
    – The lawyers, selected by the former president’s wife and daughters one day after his capture on 13 December 2003, have had their requests to U.S. authorities asking for a "date to meet with our client the Iraqi president", with a 20-day deadline attached, ignored.
    – Lawyers sent messages both to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Department of Defence, and the State Department, according to a letter they produced.
    – Lawyers on the team watched their client’s court appearance on television Thursday, complaining they were kept in the dark about the proceedings and asserting the deposed Iraqi leader cannot get a fair trial.

    A sticky situation.

    <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=1&q=http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/click/rss/0.91/public/-/2/hi/middle_east/3855931.stm&e=7507">http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=1&q=http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/click/rss/0.91/public/-/2/hi/middle_east/3855931.stm&e=7507</a&gt;
    <a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D292E904-5BB0-45FC-93DD-7DCC8F280413.htm">http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D292E904-5BB0-45FC-93DD-7DCC8F280413.htm</a&gt;
    <a href="http://asia.news.yahoo.com/040701/ap/d83i7fto0.html">http://asia.news.yahoo.com/040701/ap/d83i7fto0.html</a&gt;

    Comment by Gregory Block — 6 Jul 2004 on 2:20 pm | Link

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