September 21, 2004


“Give Saddam a Fair Trial” (Sebastiaan Gottleib, Radio Netherlands, September, 20th, 2004)

"I have no moral qualms about defending Saddam Hussein even though I absolutely disapprove of his actions", Professor Grisay explains. "But that doesn't mean that I could defend everybody. For instance, I could never assist a man like Marc Dutroux [Belgium's most notorious child rapist and murderer], because what he did goes far beyond my understanding. That's where, in my view, lawyers should draw the line: never defend a client if you cannot understand his actions. I can in Saddam's case although I absolutely condemn what he has done."

"My main focus will be on that part of the defence that deals with international law. For example, I will advise Saddam not to recognise the special tribunal, which was established with the assistance of the Americans."[...]

"We need an international tribunal like the one set up to try former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to ensure a fair trial. We can just copy the blueprint of the Yugoslav tribunal and apply it to Saddam Hussein. Of course, it cannot be based at The Hague because the Netherlands is involved in the US-led coalition that's invaded Iraq."

"The trial could be held in Brussels," the Belgium lawyer says with some measure of enthusiasm, as he wouldn't have to travel to Baghdad, where his safety cannot be guaranteed any time soon.

"We have been granted permission from the Iraqi bar to defend Saddam Hussein in front of the court, but the Iraqi authorities won't allow us into the country. They've even threatened to cut us up into pieces if we dare travel to Iraq."

What kind of a weenie lawyer is this? Surely we know from the Milosevic case that putting Mr. Hussein through a multi-year trial by an international tribunal in Europe would constitute cruel and unusual punishment and would be–dare we say it–contrary to international law. Fortunately one of Grisay’s colleagues understands the problem and is fighting for the only truly just solution for his client.

Posted by Peter Burnet at September 21, 2004 8:52 AM

Hercule Poirot was the last good Belgian.

Posted by: Timothy at September 21, 2004 3:25 PM

Any trial in which there is any possibility of Saddam's acquittal would be one definition of "unfair." Of course, another would be any outcome other than Saddam being strung up in Mosul, or Basra, or...

Posted by: brian at September 21, 2004 5:58 PM

There could not be a fair punishment for Saddam. He wouldn't be alive past the first 1% of it.

IMHO, we should just drop him off in the middle of Baghdad one sunny morning, and let the Iraqis take over from there.

Posted by: ray at September 21, 2004 9:41 PM