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People Concerned More About Own Lives than Saddam's
People Concerned More About Own Lives than Saddam's

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

*BAGHDAD, Dec 22 (IPS) - Most Iraqis are more concerned with finding
jobs, putting food on the table, personal safety and the removal of the
occupation forces than the ongoing trial of former dictator Saddam
Hussein. *

Hussein, along with seven other officials have been charged with crimes
against humanity, as well as being charges in connection with the
killing of more than 140 Shia men in the town of Dujail after an
assassination attempt against the dictator failed.

"Saddam Hussein was a criminal all his life," Abdul Hussein told IPS.
"He was a criminal in dealing with Iraqis and started so many wars just
to kill Iraqi people."

The unemployed 43-year-old engineer added, "Hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis died in the Iran war, he [Saddam Hussein] killed 5,000 in
Halabja. It's about time to bring him to trial, although we can't assure
it will bring peace, but he should be punished. Things here may get
better if Iraq stays as one unit and obtains true sovereignty and
independence."

Other Iraqis in Baghdad expressed frustration with the violence and
instability in their country during the U.S.-led occupation.

"At least under Saddam we didn't have terrorism," said Aziz, a
55-year-old taxi driver who refused to give his last name, "I always
hated him, and it's good he is being tried, but this is not going to
feed my family or make the Americans leave any sooner."

Other Iraqis, like Momtaz Abdulalah, even expressed support for the
deposed dictator.

"Some think he is a murderer, but in my opinion he is a man of power and
did his best for the Iraqi people," the former soldier with the Iraqi
Army told IPS. "We see the Americans' man Iyad Allawi with shoes thrown
on his head recently in Najaf -- this shows what Iraqis think of these
new people they want to install to replace Saddam."

Speaking after prayers at his mosque, he added, "It is essential to say
that we can accept his trial if it was done with justice, but definitely
it is not done with justice and it will therefore bring more chaos than
ever to Iraq. We don't think that [the trial] will help Iraq obtain
security nor true independence from the Americans."

Questions of legitimacy continue to plague the administration of U.S.
President George W. Bush, who hopes to use the trial of the former
dictator, along with the recent parliamentary elections, as collateral
with which to justify the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq.

New challenges arose after Saddam alleged at hearings Wednesday that he
had been tortured -- a charge the United States dismissed.

The United Nation's human rights chief in Iraq, John Case, has said that
the trial of Saddam Hussein would never meet international standards
because of ongoing violence and flaws in the Iraqi legal system.

"The legitimacy of the tribunal needs to be examined," he told reporters
while citing the murders of two defence lawyers, and continued threats
against judges, lawyers and witnesses. The legitimacy of the trial "has
been seriously challenged in many quarters."

The remarks of the UN representative join a chorus of similar statements
from human rights and justice groups who continue to express outrage
about the illegitimacy of the trial.

When speaking of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Bush said, "All [foreign]
military forces and intelligence personnel must withdraw before the
elections for those elections to be free and fair."

When making this statement in March of this year, Bush appeared to agree
with the idea that elections held in a country under military occupation
are illegitimate.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 15, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice accused
the international community of shirking its obligation to help prosecute
Saddam Hussein by effectively boycotting his trial.

Her statements, made to a conservative think-tank in the United States,
refer to a long list of countries which have chosen not to train court
personnel, nor provide security or money for the trial because of
international dissent over the death penalty.

Nevertheless, many Iraqis continue to express satisfaction about the
68-year- old iron-fisted dictator being tried.

"Saddam Hussein is a leader to Iraqis calling for independence, yet he
didn't give independence to the Kurds," Marwan Kaka Ali, a Kurdish man,
told IPS. "He was the reason why the Kurds are seeking independence and
sovereignty."

But many Iraqis to believe the trial is a charade. Hussein and his
half-brother Barazan al-Tikriti have openly taunted, yelled, laughed and
spat in the court at judges and witnesses.

Meanwhile, one of the five judges in the trial stepped down earlier this
month. The unidentified judge removed himself from the raucous trial
after learning that one of the defendants may have been involved in the
execution of his brother.

Thus far in the trial, which many groups feel should be moved to a safer
venue such as The Hague, one of the defendants' lawyers has been
assassinated and one lawyer has fled abroad.

Mortar bombs have exploded outside the building while the trial has been
in progress in past weeks, and Iraqi authorities having uncovered plots
by resistance groups to fire rockets at the courthouse. A suicide car
bomber struck the house of Midhat al-Mahmoudi in Baghdad, a senior judge
in the trial, but did not make it past the security measures.

The trial has had fitful progress since it began on Oct. 19.

Hussein and his seven colleagues will face the death penalty if found
guilty of crimes against humanity.


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(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images, photos, photography and text are protected by United States and international copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the http://DahrJamailIraq.com website. Website by photographer Jeff Pflueger's Photography Media http://jeffpflueger.com . Any other use of images, photography, photos and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

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