Iraqi Leaders Create Tribunal for Saddam

The Iraqi Governing Council has named a bunch of Iraqi judges and prosecutors to a tribunal to try Saddam Hussein. They chose an opponent of Saddam's to play a major role--which may turn out to be a controversial move:

A senior member of Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress was appointed to head the all-Iraqi tribunal - a potentially controversial choice. Chalabi, a longtime exile who returned to Iraq and was named to the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, is mistrusted as an outsider by many Iraqis who want to see Saddam prosecuted by Iraqis who were present under his brutal rule. ....In the tribunal appointments, Salem Chalabi, a U.S.-educated lawyer and nephew of Ahmad Chalabi, was named by the Governing Council as director-general of the court, said INC spokesman Entefadh Qanbar. Salem Chalabi named seven judges and four prosecutors, and further judges will be appointed, Qanbar said.

Though INC head Ahmad Chalabi played a leading role in the opposition abroad to Saddam, many Iraqis consider him and other Governing Council members as American implants. Chalabi has been trying to gain grassroots support for his faction after decades in exile. On the council, Chalabi, a favorite of the Pentagon architects of the Iraq invasion, has been a fierce proponent of expunging traces of Saddam's regime. He heads an official De-Baathification Commission that has been aggressive in purging Iraqis with links to Saddam's dissolved party from government positions - so aggressive that even some U.S. officials have complained that it was getting rid of needed expertise.

For more on Chalabi and his tightness with the U.S., see TChris's posts here, here and here.

The trial would not begin before the June 30 handover of power.

If Chalabi's status is diminished in that handover, "there is a very good chance ... this court may see a change in its membership," said Adeed Dawisha, professor of political science at Miami University in Ohio.

Who's amassing the evidence? The Justice Department:

A team of Justice Department prosecutors and investigators has been gathering evidence for a war crimes case against Saddam, while other international groups have been sifting through the mass graves where U.S. officials say 300,000 victims of Saddam's regime were buried.

And who will foot the bill? Don't be surprised if we end up paying for it.

What else is wrong with trying Saddam by Iraqi tribunal instead of by international tribunal? We tell you here.

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