Monday, November 20, 2006

Saddam given unfair trial

NEW YORK: Human Rights Watch said Monday that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was not given a fair trial, claiming in a report that attorneys and judges undermined the legitimacy of the process by staging repeated walkouts and failing to uphold standards of international law.

In a 97-page report, the group called the soundness of the guilty verdict "questionable" and said the Iraqi High Tribunal was not equipped to handle such a complex case. The document was based on observation of the trial and interviews with court officials, lawyers and other key parties, the group said.

The New York-based rights group said it found "serious procedural flaws," citing shortcomings in the timely disclosure of incriminating evidence. It also said that the defendants were not allowed to properly confront witnesses, and that the judges at times did not maintain an impartial demeanor.

"The court's conduct, as documented in this report, reflects a basic lack of understanding of fundamental fair trial principles, and how to uphold them in the conduct of a relatively complex trial," the report said. "The result is a trial that did not meet key fair trial standards. Under such circumstances, the soundness of the verdict is questionable." The Associated Press Published: November 20, 2006.

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