31 December, 2006

Hanged Almost Without Trial

Saddam Hussein was convicted and hanged without fair trial, leading human rights groups said after his execution Saturday.

"Amnesty International believes the whole process was deeply flawed," James Dyson from Amnesty told IPS. The Iraqi Appeals Court failed to address the major flaws during the former dictator's trial before the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT), Amnesty said in a statement Saturday.

Human Rights Watch had issued a 97-page report last month detailing numerous flaws in the trial of Saddam.

"The Iraqi high tribunal was not independent of political pressure coming from the Iraqi cabinet," Richard Dicker from Human Rights Watch told IPS Saturday. "In January this year the judge in Saddam's trial resigned in protest because he was publicly criticised by the prime minister for being too lenient in the way he was conducting proceedings."

That kind of political interference, he said, is "wholly inappropriate to the judicial process."

What Saddam had faced, he said, was "trial by ambush" that was marked by the failure of prosecution to provide defence attorneys evidence that was being introduced in court. Sometimes the evidence to be presented was given to defence lawyers at the last minute, and sometimes not at all, he said. That denied "an effective and meaningful defence."

The Human Rights Watch report, 'Judging Dujail: The First Trial Before the Iraqi High Tribunal' was based on 10 months of observation and dozens of interviews with judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers.

According to the human rights group, the report found, among other defects, "violations of the defendants' right to question prosecution witnesses, and the presiding judge's demonstrations of bias."

Saddam's defence lawyers had 30 days to file an appeal from the Nov. 5 verdict pronouncing the death sentence. "However, the trial judgment was only made available to them on November 22, leaving just two weeks to respond." The appeals chamber announced its confirmation of the verdict and the death sentence Dec. 26.

"It defies imagination that the appeals chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defence's written arguments in less than three weeks' time," said Dicker in a statement put out by Human Rights Watch. "The appeals process appears even more flawed than the trial."

Both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch had over many years documented human rights abuses under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- at a time when Western governments paid little heed to those reports, let alone act on them.

"These crimes include the killing of more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds in Northern Iraq as part of the 1998 Anfal campaign," Human Rights Watch said in its statement. The execution of Saddam Hussein means the truth in that case might now never be known.

"At the time of his hanging, Saddam Hussein and others were on trial for genocide for the 1988 Anfal campaign," Human Rights Watch said. "The victims, including women, children and the elderly, were selected because they were Kurds who remained on their traditional lands in zones outside of areas controlled by Baghdad. Hussein's execution will therefore jeopardize the trial of these most serious crimes."

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch both oppose use of the death penalty on principle, and the groups say handing the death sentence has been compounded by an unfair trial in the first place.

"We oppose the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, but it is especially abhorrent when this most extreme penalty is imposed after an unfair trial," Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme said in a statement.

"It is even more worrying that in this case, the execution appeared a foregone conclusion, once the original verdict was pronounced, with the appeals court providing little more than a veneer of legitimacy for what was, in fact, a fundamentally flawed process."

The trial "will be seen by many as nothing more than 'victor's justice' and, sadly, will do nothing to stem the unrelenting tide of political killings," Smart said.

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death on Nov. 5 this year after being convicted in connection with the killing of 148 people from al-Dujail village north of Baghdad after an attempt to assassinate him there in 1982.

The trial, which began in October 2005 almost two years after Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces, ended in July this year.

"Every accused has a right to a fair trial, whatever the magnitude of the charge against them," said Smart. "This plain fact was routinely ignored through the decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. His overthrow opened the opportunity to restore this basic right and, at the same time, to ensure, fairly, accountability for the crimes of the past. It is an opportunity missed, and made worse by the imposition of the death penalty."

"The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders," said Dicker. "History will judge these actions harshly."

In an official statement, the Indian Government has expressed disappointment over the execution of Saddam Hussein.

"We hope that the unfortunate event will not affect the process of reconciliation, restoration of peace and normalcy in Iraq," he said.

The government had earlier expressed opposition to Hussein's execution and cautioned that no steps should be taken which could delay restoration of peace in the troubled country.

Pakistan calls Saddam hanging a 'sad event'

n a low-key reaction, Pakistan described the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussain as a 'sad event' which was a 'poignant reminder' of the violence that gripped Iraq.

"The execution of former President Saddam Hussein, which can only be described as a sad event, is another poignant reminder of the violence that continues to grip Iraq," a statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office said.

"We hope that this event would not further exacerbate the security situation. It remains our earnest hope to see peace, stability and reconciliation so that people of Iraq regain control of their affairs in a secure environment," it said.

UN against death penalty but understands desire for justice in Hussein case – envoy

Reacting to the imposition of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq with terror for nearly a quarter of a century until his ouster in 2003, the senior United Nations envoy there voiced understanding about the desire for justice among many people but reiterated the world body's longstanding opposition to capital punishment.

“The United Nations stands firmly against impunity, and understands the desire for justice felt by the many Iraqis,” Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said through a spokesman.

“Based on the principle of respect for the right to life, however, the United Nations remains opposed to capital punishment, even in the case of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Iraqi officials present at the hanging say Saddam went to his death a broken man, but showed no remorse for his actions. Hours later, bomb attacks in Baghdad and the Shi'ite city of Kufa killed at least 68 people.

Iraqi National Security Advisor Moaffaq al-Rubaie, who witnessed the execution, said it was handled completely by the Iraqis, and no American witnesses were present.

Hours after the execution, three bombs exploded in close coordination in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people. To the south, in Kufa, more than 30 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a busy fish market.

In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, police blocked the entrances to the town, and said nobody was allowed to leave or enter for four days. Elsewhere, Iraqi and U.S. forces remained on heightened alert.

Saddam buried in Awja

Relatives of the former Iraqi president say Saddam Hussein has been buried in a family plot in Awja, close to Tikrit.

An earlier family statement issued on Saturday night said the executed leader would be buried in Ramadi, but the authorities there said they were unaware of any plan to bury him there.


‘I Saw Fear, He Was Afraid’
In a Newsweek interview, the man hired to videotape Saddam’s execution recalls his humble final moments.
Dec 30, 2006


Ali Al Massedy was 3 feet away from Saddam Hussein when he died. The 38 year old, normally Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's official videographer, was the man responsible for filming the late dictator's execution at dawn on Saturday. "I saw fear, he was afraid," Ali told NEWSWEEK minutes after returning from the execution. Wearing a rumpled green suit and holding a Sony HDTV video camera in his right hand, Ali recalled the dictator's last moments. "He was saying things about injustice, about resistance, about how these guys are terrorists," he says. On the way to the gallows, according to Ali, "Saddam said, ‘Iraq without me is nothing.’"

Ali says he followed Saddam up the gallows steps, escorted by two guards. He stood over the hole and filmed from close quarters as Saddam dropped through—from "me to you," he said, crouching down to show how he shot the scene. The distance, he said, was "about one meter," he said. "He died absolutely, he died instantly." Ali said Saddam's body twitched, "shaking, very shaking," but "no blood," he said, and "no spit." (Ali said he was not authorized to disclose the location, and did not give other details of the room.)

Ali said the videotape lasts about 15 minutes. When NEWSWEEK asked to see a copy, Ali said he had already handed the tape over to Maliki's chief of staff. "It is top secret," he said. He would not give the names of officials in attendance, though he estimates there were around 20 observers. One of them, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, told CNN that Saddam clasped a Koran as the noose was tied around his neck, and refused to wear a hood. He also said that government officials had not decided whether or not to release the videotape. The execution reportedly took place at 6:05 a.m. local time. Prime Minister Maliki did not attend.

Ali was greeted as a hero when he returned from the execution a little after 7 a.m., flying in with other officials and landing in two helicopters in the Green Zone. A convoy of 20 or so GMCs and Toyota Land Cruisers waited outside to drive some of the Iraqi officials home.

The Iraqi bodyguards, mostly Shiites they said, had passed the time smoking and praying—some prayed on cardboard mats on the street.

It was a cold morning in Baghdad, a few degrees above freezing, and in the post dawn light the guards' breaths could be seen in the air. When the thudding of helicopters began, the body guards rushed towards the entrance to the landing zone. They swarmed around Ali, snapping digital pictures on camera phones and cheering. "Saddam finished, Saddam finished," a guard who gave his name as Mohammed told NEWSWEEK. Ali looked somewhat stunned as he exited, carrying the camera.

"All Iraqis will be happy," he says. "This is the most important day for me [as a cameraman,]" he said. "This page [in history] is over, this page is over. All Iraqis will be happy from the north to the south to the east to the west." One of the judges who presided over the execution then came out to the street; Ali jumped in a car with him. The convoy of SUVs drove off, one after the other, with the occasional honk of the horn.

Unreleased Saddam Hussein Execution Video

The question remains on many conspiracy websites, is this really Saddam Hussein with a noose around his neck? While there will be no end to the debate about the true identity of the man hanged, compelling evidence exists to suggest the person on trial was an imposter. Possibly one of the many security doubles the former Iraqi dictator employed.

The video released shows new angle of Saddam's execution. These are the real videos, showing you what the media refuses to.

The video show the actual hanging, view discretion is advised. Download the video HERE.
(Note:To start this P2P download, you have to install a BitTorrent client like µTorrent )


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