Key Documents

Report From the Arab Press

Collated by A.

July 1, 2004

Sovereignty Premiere: US army raid Iraqi ministry of Interior and release criminals and drug traffickers

The al-Quds al-Arabi daily of London reported a raid by American occupation forces on the Iraqi Ministry of Interior on the first day of the so-called sovereignty allegedly handed over to Iraqis. The daily explained:

"On June 29,American forces stormed the building of Iraqi Ministry of Interior after laying siege to it by many armored cars and a large number of soldiers. Iraqi policemen at a nearby checkpoint were taken by surprise by the the presence of a large number of military vehicles full of soldiers who immediately ordered Iraqi policemen at gunpoint to leave their pistols and lie on the ground. Other soldiers laid siege to the building and prevented anybody from entering or leaving it. Then they entered and searched the whole building

"American soldiers interrogated a number of Iraqi police officers, alleging that a number of innocent Iraqi were arrested and abused. They also interrogated a few detainees.

"A few days ago, the Ministry of the Interior launched a campaign against organized crime in the Battaween neighbour head at the center of Baghdad, where police arrested 150 criminals wanted for crimes of murder, drug trafficking and kidnapping and found a lot of weapons and a quantity of drugs.

"American occupation soldiers arrested for a short time an al-Jazeera cameraman who was recording the scene and destroyed his film cassette.

"An Iraqi police officer, who insisted on anonymity, told the paper that American soldiers, after taking the policemen's weapons, forced them to lie on the ground for several hours under at more than 50 degrees Centigrade. "They served water and food to criminal detainees while prevented police officers lying on the ground from taking anything and kept threatening them at gun point to stay motionless," added the officer.

"They humiliated us in front of criminals we arrested a few days ago. The Deputy Minister told US officers that those arrested by the Ministry were wanted for crimes of murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking, and that means for committing crimes were found with them. The deputy Minister threatened to resign if the US army unit released them.

"Colonel Abdul-Ridha, who himself was abused by US soldiers upon entering the building, said that laying siege to and searching the Ministry as well as humiliating its personnel is obviously a message from the Americans on the first day of sovereignty that the authority handover does not mean that the Iraqi government has become the real authority in Iraq. They could have verified the issue of detainees in a normal and quiet manner, but they deliberately wanted to humiliate the Iraqi government, he said.

"A non-commissioned police officer, Ahmad, yelled at reporters outside the Ministry asking them, "to report this flagrant violation so as the world can see the reality of US-sponsored sovereignty: they storm the ministry, humiliate its personnel, and throw them on the ground like animals for hours, all for the sake of a few criminals. How can people respect us in the future? I will leave the service and join resistance. I will fight the Americans"

Saddam shown in court

Former President Saddam Hussein was shown on trial in a very small room in an unknown place without the presence of lawyers. First, American court authorities decided not to let Saddam's voice be released. Immediately, Arab TV commentators criticized the censoring of his voice. After 2 hours, the authorities backed down and released 3.5 minutes out of 45 minutes of his voice. He was normal, relaxed and at times very defiant. He continually argued with the judge about the lack of legal authority for the trial. Al-Jazeera TV correspondent, Abdul-Adheem Mohamad, who was present at the court where former president Saddam Hussein was brought today, reported the following:

"Saddam was brought with chained hands. Then he sat down in the box. The judge asked him his name, but the former President refused to answer. The judge asked whether he is Saddam Hussein. Saddam said he was the President of the Republic of Iraq. After the judge had read the charges, the former President said this trial is a farce and a theatrical act aimed at bolstering Bush's chances in elections, adding that the real criminal is Bush himself. Saddam asked the judge if he was a judge before occupation and, according to which law he was being tried. Then Saddam said: "As a judge, you should not rule according to occupation authority law. You read charges against me about events that took place during the period when I was President of the republic." The judge said these charges are legal. Here, President Saddam got angry and said:

"Legal? You said legal? You call it legal to accuse me of occupying Kuwait? Occupation of Kuwait, it's pity that you as an Iraqi say this. You said it's legal to accuse Saddam Hussein after Kuwaitis vowed to make Iraqi women be sold each for 10 Iraqi dinars and when Saddam Hussein went to defend Iraq's honour against Kuwaitis and revive a historical right? You are accusing me in my official capacity. I was President of the Republic and the Iraqi army went to Kuwait during my term. As for the accusation with regard to shelling Halabcha. I heard this from radio. How can you make accusations to me about something that happened while I was President, that's in my official status?"

Saddam refused to sign court papers unless his solicitors are present.

Abdul-Bary Atwan, editor of the al-Quds al-Arabi daily, said the faces of the judge was not shown. Saddam's voice was deliberately deleted. He added: "It seems that President Saddam is still a source of fear to Americans, judges and the present superficial government. If they are talking about justice, why are they afraid to let Iraqis hear Saddam talking? They have giving the impression that Saddam is stronger than them. How can they talk about a fair trial while the Iraqi Minister of Justice threatened a member of the Arab committee for defending Saddam, saying that if any one of this committee comes to Iraq, he will not only be killed but also torn to pieces?

"If Saddam is being tried on such charges, who will try Bush for the US killing of more than 175,0000 Iraqis as a result of 13 years of US-sponsored sanctions on Iraq, for US killing of more than 100,000 Iraqis during the US-led attack on Iraq in 1991, more than 20,000 Iraqis in the 2003 war and more than 800 Iraqis in Falluja recently? And who will try Ayad Allawi for killing scores of Iraqis in a cinema bombing and scores of Iraqi children in a school bus in the early 1990's?"

The former Jordanian Royal Palace Minister and lawyer, Dr. Hani al-Khasawna said he would be honored to defend Saddam and his aides, though the Iraqi Minister of Justice did not encourage him by his threats on solicitors. He continued: "Although Saddam has committed mistakes, the sole crime for which he is facing all this was his adherence to the slogan 'Palestine is an Arab country and has to be liberated'. There are 1,500 lawyers so far and the committee is still receiving requests from lawyers from different parts of the world expressing readiness to go to Baghdad despite the Iraqi Minister of Justice' threats.

Sarmad abdul-Kareem, editor of Iraq4All website said it's quite surprising that the authorities appointed a young judge of about 30 years old to such an important trial. He explained:

Why didn't they appoint a group of Iraqi experienced judges? Why didn't they wait until the situation in Iraq comes back to normal? How can a trial be conducted while the court cannot secure the defendant under it's custody? It seems that both the Americans and the Iraqi government want to achieve certain political goals out of this show. The Bush administration would like to demonstrate to Americans voters that he is strong, whereas the Allawi government would like to show Iraqis that they have real authority."

Background of Salim Chalabi and posted a background piece on of Salim (code-named Sam) Chalabi, head of the court, established by Bremer, prosecuting former President Saddam Hussein . They explained: "Salim is the nephew of Ahmad Chalabi. He is a graduate of an American university and was living in the United States. He appointed seven judges and four prosecutor. Salim is closely connected with the Bush administration neocons. He is a co-partner of Israeli lawyer, Mark Zell, in a law office sponsored by Donald Rumsfeld and Douglas Feith, number 3 man in the Pentagon. Zell is the lawyer of the Sharon-led Israeli Likud party. Their office intermediates in business deals in Iraq. He was about to be appointed as an adviser to the Ministry of Justice during the short term of Jay Garner, the first US ruler of Iraq. His office, with the initials IILG, has a branch in Baghdad, which used to be run by Rand Raheem, an American woman of Iraqi origin, who converted to Judaism after getting married to an American Jew, Mr. Franky. Mrs. Franky was later appointed by Bremer as Iraq's ambassador to Washington.

Saddam trial condemned as violation of international law

Mohamed al-Rashdan, head of the Arab Defense Committee described the trial as a violation to international law. He said the United states, according to international law, has no legal authority to amend the Iraqi constitution, issue laws, and appoint judges. He explained all the measures based on occupation are illegal. He further asserted that the occupation authority have so far refused to let him meet Saddam and some members of the Committee received threats from the Minister of Justice. He added that they are seeking international guarantees to protect them when they go to Iraq.

Iraqi lawyer in Britain condemns trial

Iraqi Lawyer, Sabah al-Mukhtar, head of the Arab Bar Association in Britain, said what's based on falsehood is falsehood. Al-Mukhtar explained that the authority, which is conducting this trial, has been installed by the occupation's illegal authority and thus it's considered by Iraqis as an imported authority that the Iraqis had not chosen. He continued the appointment of this judge and the whole court is illegal because they lack competence, experience, neutrality and independence. He added that this court was appointed by Bremer and this trial was decided upon by a puppet government and an extension to foreign occupation. Al-Mukhtar pointed out that President Saddam Hussein should be tried according to laws prevalent at the time of the events about which he is being accused. At the time, to launch an attack on Kuwait was not against law. This is a theatrical act not a trial.

London-based Iraqi journalist questions the choice of judge

The London-based Iraqi journalist Harun Mohamed said it's quite surprising to choose a young judge of no more than 30 years old to lead this trial. He explained, "Iraq has a lot of experienced judges with high reputations. Why was no one brought to this court."

Why Saddam and not other killers?

Iraqi analyst Dr. Dhafir al-Ani of UAE Arab Strategic Research Center said this trial will be the yardstick to show how much this government is committed to human rights and fairness. He added it's quite unfortunate that the Iraqi Minister of Justice threatened President Saddam's lawyers. "If President Saddam is to be tried for charges of murder, other Iraqi politicians taking part in the present authority or the previous governing Council should also be tried for killing thousands of Iraqis. He added that representatives of certain pro-occupation parties have killed thousands of Iraqis in 1991 and terrorist bombings in Bahgdad in the 1990's.

Complied by Stephen Soldz

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
1581 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446

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