If you're the guy who has to defend Sadaam...

When Sadaam goes to trial for his warcrimes (which seems very likely), someone will be charged with the duty of defending him. Even the worst war criminals on the planet have always had the right to an adequate defense. Suppose you were that guy, what would your defence be?

*Cultural Relativism - his behavior is normal for that part of the world and no one has the right to interfere?

*He was framed by the Jews and their puppet ally the United States?

*He was doing what he had to do to maintain stability in a very unstable part of the World, unpleasant as it may have seemed?

*Uday and Cusay did most of the dirty work?

*Sure, he did it, but if you go hard on him, he will reveal everything he knows about United States, French, British, German, Russian, and Japanese involvement in propping him up?

*You’ll never find the WMDs without his help. Cut him a deal and he’ll reveal exactly where the WMDs are stored?

My opinion says the last two are his two best bets. Do you have other ideas? What do you think?

Just my take:

Seems like a lot of that is public record.

Would you believe him? I wouldn’t. I find it easier to accept there are no WMDs - I always thought that, but that’s not the point - than accepting that they were so well-hidden nobody could find them and that Saddam would be honest and reveal their location. He doesn’t strike me as the plea bargaining-type. You have to accept that you’re guilty to cop a plea. I don’t think that’s in him.

I agree w/ Marley. I had him pegged, before the war, as a guy who’d flee to save his skin. I got that wrong-- he stayed and tried to make some kind of a stand. Seems like he’ll go down defiant and uncooperative.

I look at things quite the opposite.

I see a man who has lost his country and has nothing to lose. He knows he will die. The reason we went to war was because of WMD’s and the horse mouth has told us a second time: there aren’t any WMD’s. He isn’t lying. He is just reaffirming what everyone else thought from the get-go.


But if I somehow found myself in the job (“I agreed to do what last night?”), I’d go with none of the above. There are no deals to be cut - what information does SH have that can’t be developed by other means ?

The Nuremberg model 1.0 defense would combine two points:

[ul]My client was but a figurehead, kept in the dark by the ambitious underlings who took it on themselves to commit the most atrocious crimes in a desperate grab for power. Surely my client should not be punished for what he did not order ? If the prosecution cannot link a crime to a specific order issued by my client, the charge must be dropped.

Also, this court has no jurisdiction to indict my client for what was completely legal actions under the then-current Iraqi legal system.[/ul]

Spiny Norman, those two defenses seem at odds with each other. If you claim the actions were legal, aren’t you then admitting that he ordered said actions?

Also, the difference between Nuremberg’s defense and this one is that Hitler was never on trial.

John Mace, he’s clearly a guy who values his own survival way more than any kind of principle. But he’s got his pride, and image seems to be very important to him. He just wasn’t going to give in to anybody, Bush especially.

Sorry, should’ve been clearer. It’s a two-stage process - first try to get rid of as many charges as possible with the “others did it” defense, then argue that acting as described in the remaining charges would have been perfectly legal at the time and that your client is being charged ex post facto. I’m not saying it’s a perfectly good defense - most of the defendants at Nuremberg were convicted, after all.

Hitler wasn’t on trial, true - but members of the inner circle certainly were. (And the “Hitler did it” defense certainly was brought into play.)

This question was asked in another thread but has not yet been answered: Which parts of Iraqi Law have been contravened?

If Iraqi Law does not recognise the term “war crimes”, then he could not be tried for such in Iraq. Given that SH was Iraqi Law’s sole arbiter for two decades, this is very possible.

So, the only way to charge him for war crimes in Iraq would be to change the law to ensure he had broken it and then charge him retroactively. Defence against this would be relatively simple, by arguing that such a court had no jurisdiction and was effectively full of Australian marsupials.

Well, I think I would try the Chewbacca defense - only defense that has any way in hell of working.

He’s going to be convicted. Rant and rave as much as possible to make sure that history records that he had no chance. SN works as well.

Of course, its hard to tell when an obviously guilty suspect is being railroaded. Saddam did it (whatever they eventually define as “it”, Saddam probably did it), but I don’t think the verdict will be left to even the slight chance of the Chewbacca defense being successful.

The Chewbacca Defense, ie. an utter non sequitur, for those who did not immediately recognise the pop-culture reference. Like me.

Estopple (same defence that will get Milosovic off):

[ul]He killed some people, the US knew, nobody did anything
He killed some more people, the UN knew, nobody did anything
He killed even more people, France/Germany/Russia knew, nobody did anything
He kept killing people, Iran/Syria/Egypt knew, nobody did anything
He killed anyone he wanted, everyone knew, nobody did anything[/ul]If what he did was wrong he should have been put on trial 23 years ago. By not correcting his behaviour we condoned it.

This was tried in Nuremburg and Jerusalem, too. The courts cited the centuries old concept of the “law of nations,” international law already in existence that any jurisdiction can prosecute. Piracy is the primary historical example of the law of nations; pirates attempted to place theselves beyond all jurisdictions and effectively declared war on humanity. Genocide is within the modern definition of the law of nations, and is punishable by a new Iraqi government to the same extent it would be punishable by an international tribunal.

So, pravnik, some kind of court for crimes against international law? An International Criminal Court, say?

Funny, I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Incidentally, the charges of genocide are actually not quite so cut-and-dried as one might think. For example, it is possible that the mass-gassings we have all heard about were actually unintentional or even Iranian.

The Marsh Arabs were, indeed, driven off their land in the thousands, but not too many were killed AFAIK, certainly not enough to warrant the term “genocide”.

Finally, the mass executions after Gulf War I were quite possibly political in nature, to avert an imminent coup, rather than genocide per se.

Given this material to work with, is there any aspiring barrister out there who wishes the chance to be known forever after as “the lawyer who got Saddam off”?

Hadn’t heard that about the Iranians, I always thought it was a given that Saddam had gassed the Kurds. About the ICC, it’s true that they would be a perfectly fine forum to try Saddam, but it’s important to realize international criminal law isn’t solely within the exclusive jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court; it is enforceable by States as well. Genocide, torture, and some other serious crimes are subject to universal jurisdiction. jursidiction is concurrent between any State that can exercise jurisdiction over the individual and an internation penal tribunal, like the International Criminal Court. Crimes against humanity affect the interest of all States and are subject to absolute universal jurisdiction, meaning every State has the right to prosecute these crimes against any alleged perpetrator found in or subject to their jurisdiction, regardless of who the victims may have been. The snooty latin term is hostis humani generis, enemies of all mankind, because all States have a common interest in the apprehension and prosecution of individuals who perpetrate these crimes.

I think a lot would depend on what he’s actually charged with and how incriminating the evidence is. Gassing Kurds and Iranians isn’t going to be that easy to pin on Saddam. The more recent crimes will be, they’ll may go for the mass Shiite graves, etc. in which case you plead Iraqi sovereignty.

And of course a lot would depend on where he was being tried and the penalty you’re looking at (in the US you’re priority will be to avoid the DP).
If it was the US then I’d forestall (refuse to put on a defense unless given Documents X, Y, Z that US isn’t going to hand over , etc.) trying to move to the UN or waiting until a new administration comes in and then cut a deal for no death penalty.
Ultimately when pressed I might go for:
(1) again, blaming overzealous underlings that SH then punished/killed (heh, won’t be talking).
(2) SH was acting under direct encouragement of the US (who of course have destroyed most evidence of such) and/or the USSR perhaps with implied immunity for such actions.

What I think would be hilarious would be if, in the US, he demanded a “jury of his peers” (i.e. arab despots). They could make qaddafi the foreman!

Then Hussein’s lawyers could legitimately argue Hussein has simply not committed genocide. He’s certainly had lots of people murdered, but genocide is, in accordance with the 1948 Convention, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Even with respect to the Kurds, you could argue Hussein never attempted to destroy an entire group of people - I’m not sure it’s true, but the argument is there.

Genocide is a pretty weak charge against Hussein. Starting an aggressive war (not this one, but the Iran-Iraq War and the 1991 invasion of Kuwait) would be a much easier charge, and there’s precedent for it.

Very true, RickJay: in addition to crimes against humanity, Saddam can be accused of crimes against peace for having waged an aggressive war and invasion of a sovereign. Even if not guilty of genocide, he’s still not off the hook for crimes against humanity, though: lesser crimes against humanity than genocide can still be prosecuted, such as organized rape, systemic torture, mass murder of the civilian population for political purposes, slavery, and so on. Even without the Holocaust, the Nuremberg defendants could have been convicted of crimes against peace and crimes against humanity just on the crimes it committed against the occupied territories and the German people.