Saddam Hussein's lawyers contest the legitimacy of the court

20 October 2005 :

“Sentencing to death Saddam Hussein would not be the best way of presenting the new Iraq as it would not offer a solution to the past,” declared Sergio D’Elia, Secretary of Hands Off Cain, commenting on the beginning of proceedings against the former Iraqi dictator.
In this first trial, Saddam, together with seven other members of the former regime, are charged with the 1982 massacre of 143 Shiites in the town of Dujail following a failed attempt to kill the former dictator.
“Saddam is responsible for thousands if not tens of thousands of executions, not all of which were summary,” continued D’Elia.
“Condemning him to death would betray the reasons for which it was deemed necessary to intervene in the country and free it from its dictator.  A death penalty for Saddam Hussein would be extremely negative especially for the European states engaged within the coalition which are all abolitionist and would become “collaborators” in a trial ending with an “exemplary” conviction of death. It would be a betrayal of the statutes, the treaties and the principles which not only inspired the Constitutional charters of single European states but also the European Constitution which gives a clear ‘No” to the death penalty”.  
As to the possibility that the trial will become an act of revenge for the victors, D’Elia stated: “The options were two: either an internal trial, which was the choice taken; or an international trial, which should have taken place with the creation of an ad hoc court which guaranteed the respect of international standards for an impartial trial. This is what should have been done. And it should have been requested by the countries engaged in Iraq and adopted by the  international community, via the UN.
But this was not the case. The states engaged in Iraq should have made themselves guarantors of international standards for a fair trial, avoiding that the trial becomes an internal bringing to the books.
I remember when a year ago Kofi Annan refused to appoint technical staff and UN institutions for the training of legal personnel, magistrates and experts in Iraqi law because, as the UN General Secretary explained, the death penalty was an option in the Iraqi ordinance.
It was a courageous stance which abolitionist Europe should have adopted and vigorously sustained. It instead preferred to remain silent. As far as we are concerned our “Hands Off Cain” is also for Saddam. What we are defending is not his impunity but his safety”.

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