Nobel Peace Prize nominee speaks about Hussein’s trial

Maureen Nagg

Michael Scharf, an expert in international criminal law, spoke last night in Bowman Hall. Scharf was nominated in 2005 for a Nobel Peace Prize for his assistance in bringing war criminals to justice in Iraq.

Credit: Andrew popik

Nobel Peace Prize nominee Michael Scharf discussed the politics behind the trial of Saddam Hussein and the possibilities of it being fair in Bowman Hall last night.

Scharf said when he first heard Hussein would be put to trial by an Iraqi Tribunal court, he did not believe it was possible for the trial to be fair.

“At first, I thought this would be a puppet trial put together by a puppet government,” Scharf said.

He became an outspoken critic against the tribunal and the chances of an unbiased trial. After publishing some of his arguments in national newspapers, Scharf received a phone call.

Scharf was asked to go to London to train the Iraqi judges who would be presiding over Hussein’s trial.

“Because I had such strong feelings against it, they wanted me to come and help make it better,” Scharf said.

After working with the Iraqi Tribunal judges, Scarf said he changed his mind.

“They are not a stooge of the U.S. political branches,” he said. “The country of Iraq is fiercely proud of its legal system, and it is a strong tradition.”

Scharf said after their training is finished, the judges will be capable of holding a fair trial and of protecting the rights of the defense.

“These judges are well-selected and committed to justice,” he said. “They are even willing to put their lives on the line for it.”

However, Scharf feels that it will be hard for people around the world to see this.

“It is important that this tribunal not only be fair but be seen as fair,” he said. “It has a long way to go before it achieves this.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Maureen Nagg at [email protected].