Hussein trial will be just

Editorial Board

Saddam Hussein’s upcoming trial will be one of the most publicized in recent memory. Talk of American puppet judges having strings pulled by the Bush administration has dominated headlines. The administration has often likened Hussein to a thug, murderer and vicious dictator, and any hand Bush’s team has in the trial process can be considered biased.

Michael Scharf, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a key trainer of the judges who will be serving on Hussein’s tribunal, discussed his belief in a fair trial with the editorial board last week. After meeting with Scharf, we agree that Hussein will receive the justice all human beings deserve.

Though the United States had much to do with the overthrow of Iraq and the capture of its dictator, it has not had much to do with Hussein’s trial. Scharf, who used to decry the United States’ involvement in the trial, comparing the process to a sham, has since changed his tune. He is now convinced Hussein’s trial is legitimate and has a good chance of appearing so before the world community. He believes so, and we agree for a few main reasons:

n The judges trying Hussein are being trained by individuals from all over the world. Though the Bush administration knew Scharf was highly critical of the tribunal, it still asked him to take part in the training.

n The presiding judge over Hussein’s initial court appearances is one of the most well-known faces in Iraq. He has received countless death threats and immense criticism. Yet Raed Jouhi al-Saadi has refused to have his face blacked out during publicized events, stressing the need for a fair trial performed in the open.

n Iraq refused to bow to U.S. pressure for a swift trial of purported Hussein confidant “Chemical” Ali. Iraq said it wasn’t ready for the trial, that justice could not be hurried. Scharf said Iraq’s response left a strong message: “There’s not going to be a rush to judgment.”

n Despite international and U.S. criticism, Iraq is adamant about having capital punishment on the table, and it will be. Scharf said Iraq sees itself as being the birthplace of justice, a bastion of law. Capital punishment has been used in Iraq since the time of Mesopotamia, and Iraq is reluctant to stop anytime soon. Iraq is getting what it wants.

The tribunal will try more than just Saddam Hussein. Other former Iraqi regime members will be tried as well. Scharf said the defense wants acquittals, and if there are some, it will reflect the court’s key mantra: innocent until proven guilty. The Bush administration wants convictions, but the court is out of its control.

Comparable to the O.J. Simpson case, Hussein’s trial will be highly publicized and distorted in the media. Scharf said Hussein and his legal counsel will attempt to pull the tribunal and the world’s heartstrings, much like former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic — who faces charges of genocide — has done. It is imperative the media go beyond the shock and awe coverage of this important trial.

Cover the facts. Be fair. The world is counting on it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.