Trials in Iraq Next Week?

by TChris

Putting unpopular figures on trial is a great way to jump start a political campaign, so cynics might wonder at the timing of Prime Minister Allawi's announcement that members of Saddam Hussein's government will go on trial next week.

War crimes trials against senior lieutenants of Saddam Hussein will start in Baghdad next week, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said yesterday. But other members of the government said little preparatory work had been done for court proceedings. Saddam Hussein is unlikely to face trial until much later.

Complaints that the defendants haven't had access to their lawyers or an opportunity to learn of the evidence against them are apparently untroubling to Allawi, but others take a different view.

Saddam's Jordan-based lawyer, Ziad al-Kasawneh, said: "The Iraqi court will be in violation of the basic rights of the defendants, which is to have access to legal counsel while being interrogated and indicted." Mr Kasawneh, who has not yet met his client, doubted the trials would start next week. "I think Mr Allawi is dreaming," he said. "He cannot make such a bold announcement without consulting with his boss, President [George] Bush."

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