Thursday, June 16, 2005

My heart bleeds, part 469 

On Monday, Saddam's legal team was floating the idea of trying Saddam in "neutral" Sweden. Today, even more bizarrely, it's my home country.
Defence lawyers for Saddam Hussein say the deposed Iraqi dictator wants his case to be tried in Sweden or Poland instead of Iraq where he faces the death penalty, Poland's Fakt tabloid daily reported on Wednesday.

The report points out Hussein, 68, would escape the death penalty if tried in Poland or Sweden, both members of the European Union which has banned capital punishment...

Di Stefano has already taken action to stage the trial in Sweden, Fakt reported. "It is a calm and neutral country," he told Fakt. "But we may not succeed," he admitted, noting the United States would likely not be inclined towards Sweden, which did not back the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Poland, however, is among the closest European allies of the US, di Stefano observed. "Poland was drawn by the promises of the United States and sent its forces to Iraq in good faith," he told Fakt...

The Fakt report also notes Poland already has a top security court room complete with bullet-proof windows in the southern city of Katowice designed for the trial of mafia gangs which could accommodate the trial of the Iraqi dictator.
This is too strange, and nothing will come of it, but I thought I would still share it with you all. Neither the United States nor Iraq will, for a whole range of political and security reasons, agree to trying Saddam in any third country, even if that third country is a member of the Coalition of the Willing, like Poland is.

Saddam's legal eagles must be getting pretty desperate to save their man's skin. The talk of avoiding the death penalty is a smokescreen, given that Iraq's new president has already said he will not sign Saddam's death warrant, should he be convicted. It's more of a case of "anywhere but America and Iraq", based on a not unreasonable expectation that Saddam can receive an easier trail and more lenient treatment if he's out of the hands of people he murdered and oppressed for 25 years and instead placed in a "more enlightened" legal environment.

The choice of Poland, however, is curious. Communist Poland had very close relations with Saddam's Iraq in the 1970s and 80s. Today, while the war is not particularly popular among the general population, it's not because there is any public sympathy for Saddam, and the political elites, both of the left and the right, remain strong committed to the American alliance. For these reasons, to suggest Poland as a possible venue is a clever tactic. But still, close, but no cigar.


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