Watching the dreaded face of Saddam Hussein on tv was a climactic experience. For the first time in Iraqi (and Arab) history a ruler is brought to court to face charges. I admit it feels strange and the mixed feelings are impossible to describe.
The majority of Iraqis have expressed their desire to see him hanged publicly as soon as possible to mark an end to his era and to move on. A few said they didn't care anymore and that they were more interested in their future, and an even smaller group (from the Sunni areas) said they were against the trial. The Arab media (Al-Jazeera to be exact) focused on the last group. They already had a reporter at Al-Oja, Saddam's home village near Tikrit, interviewing members of Saddam's tribe to 'prove' that Iraqis were against trying their 'leader'. Today, they reported a small rally of about 50 kids in Sammara carrying posters of Saddam demonstrating against the trial of the 'honourable hero'. Al-Jazeera described them as 'crowds of demonstrators' even though the opposite was very obvious.
However, many Iraqis were disappointed in the secrecy surrounding the whole procedures. Only 3 minutes of the half hour session were displayed with audio, the room was apparently not designed to be a courtroom, and something was definitely not 'right' about the whole thing. The judge looked young and a bit nervous, the back of his head was glistening with sweat, and he stopped just short from addressing Saddam by Sayyidi (as he was always addressed before). I admire his bravery though. Saddam also shouldn't have been allowed the opportunity to give a sensational speech. I believe he made a fatal mistake by defending his invasion of Kuwait and calling Kuwaitis 'dogs'. The list of charges also raise some questions. There are no
penalties for crimes against humanity in Iraqi criminal law as far as I know, so there is some confusion here.
Maybe the new government is gauging the reaction of the Iraqi street, but a live public and transparent trial was promised, though I doubt anything is going to convince the enemies of the new Iraq who are now clinging to human rights excuses. They say the court is illegitimate. Where they legitimate under Saddam? If yes, then Saddam is going to be judged by his own Revolutionary Command Council amended laws, according to which he should face the death penalty for desertion and abandoning the battlefield when he was General Commander of Armed Forces last April.
Let's see how this unfolds.