Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was one of the major reasons for starting the war against Iraq. On Arabic TV channels one is able to witness live the court case of Iraq’s former dictator; if one has the guts.
Even though the news of increasing violence and terror in Iraq seem to have brushed aside the attention of one of the major causes this war was started in the first place, the court case of the former Iraqi president and dictator is broadcasted live since its beginning on several Arabic TV channels. Saddam Hussein is sitting together with his closest associates of his former government, of whom some are his direct relatives, in front of the judge on the defense chairs with a wooden hip-high railing around them. Their defense lawyers are placed at the side of the court room and come from different Arabic countries. One lawyer for instance, comes from Bahrain, my place of living since 1991. The judge is a white-haired man who looks quite grumpy at times. That is because his court room often resembles a theater play of reality-satire, in which the people personally responsible for the past horrors in Iraq have become the main actors in this sinister play that they seem to present to the audience.
As interested viewer of an historic court case we had to witness some time ago how one of the accused sat unwashed and still in his creased pyjama like a stubborn child on the floor facing the judge with his back, placing his elbows on his knees and his hands brushing through his untidy hair. The reason for this scene was that the defendant was brought from his prison cell to the court room against his will. (I thought that Michael Jackson who ones appeared at court in his pyjama trousers and slippers already seemed quite bizarre.)
If one has the patience to observe the reoccurring fits of rage of the accused, who constantly and intentionally interrupt the judge with their rude insults, then one will become witness of a cynical performance by the defendants, who listen emotionless and with a contemptuous look in their faces to the testimonies of their former victims who suffered so indescribably during their reign of Iraq. What is more, these witnesses have to hear insults that are sworn at them by the accused during their ordeal of recalling their torture and sufferings.
For their protection the witnesses sit behind thick curtains speaking into a microphone that changes their voices electronically beyond recognition. They accept this ordeal in order to bear witness against their former rulers, a testimony of cruel persecution, unimaginable torture and extreme human rights violations. The evidence they are giving is, regrettably, not unheard of, but for the first time for most of us we are hearing it from the victims themselves. Unfortunately, even though understandable, the victims remain anonymous and the electronically changed voices bestow an anxious unreality on these scenes.
Saddam and his gang are obviously unmoved by these testimonies but they are able to repeatedly interrupt the court or even cause impertinent chaos while the viewer would like to explode with anger feeling the blood boiling in our veins. The last judge has resigned some time ago because he could not become in control of his court room. Saddam was and still is a cunning fox, who up to this day considers himself to be the rightful and most of all just president of Iraq. His distorted view will not be changed by the shocking victims‘ testimonies and their evidence. The accused know themselves too well how they reigned over Iraq and with what methods they terrorized their population. For them the purpose sanctifies the methods.
It is well-known that Saddam now and then killed opponents with his own hands and did not even spare two of his sons-in-law. He also demonstrated to his sons some convincing and practical methods of becoming strong rulers with a box of mice. When his sons were still young he had a box full of mice thrown out in front of them and ordered his sons to catch them again, alone. Although they tried their utmost out of fear to be punished in case of failure and as they knew they could not disappoint their strict father, they were not able to catch these mice again. Saddam, however, would show them how. He took the box full of mice and shook it vigorously before releasing the mice. This time his sons were able to catch all those mice without much effort. The father closed his demonstration with the remark that in order to control the people and to be a successful, strong ruler they would have to do the same with their subjects. So much with regard to the government know-how tips of a dictator.
It is hard to believe with respect to the testimonies heard so far and my history knowledge of the Middle East that this court case will be of much use to the Iraqi people, especially with regard to the escalating violence and terror in Iraq. The new Iraqi president, Dschalal Talabani, has already announced that he will not sign the death penalty for Saddam, knowing very well that he would sign his own at the same time. Sadly, justice probably will not and cannot be done to the victims, but I fear that these victims and Iraq will not find any peace as long as Saddam is still alive. What is more, just like after the break down of the Nazi regime in Germany, many responsible helpers and supporters of the former dictator will escape by leaving their scenes of action in order to continue their lives somewhere else where they are able to hide their infamous past.
Nowadays, I change the channel when Saddam’s court case is shown on TV and wish that he would have had a similar fate like the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.