Who is killing Saddam's defense lawyers?
Things that pique my interest are things that don't make sense at first, that cause me to wonder what's going on because something doesn't quite jibe. One of those things is that two of Saddam's defense lawyers have now been murdered.
Why doesn't that make sense? After all, aren't there enough people in Iraq who are angry at Saddam, angry enough to kill anyone who might want to defend him? Naturally, of course, no question--and it may indeed be just as simple as that.
But I doubt it. It somehow doesn't have the right modus operandi--the fingerprints, as it were, of the opposition to Saddam: Shi'ite clerics calling for forbearance when their own people are bombed, anti-Saddamites supporting the ascendance of the rule of law. Instead, it bears more resemblance to what we've seen in the past from Saddam supporters.
Why would Saddam's supporters kill his own lawyers, on his orders or on their own initiative? I'm not ordinarily a conspiracist, but in this case I might make an exception.
The world press has talked from the start about how Saddam's trial shouldn't be held in Iraq, and the murders of the lawyers could play to this belief and create clear proof in their eyes that indeed, it's not safe enough. And who would benefit from a move? Saddam, especially if it's to a European country with no death penalty (unlikely, but possible).
Who would benefit from a delay? Saddam (or his supporters). Who is a coldblooded killer who would murder his own best friend (and in Saddam's case, probably has) many times over to further his power, or to protect himself? Saddam, or his supporters. Who would dearly love to give the impression that the anti-Saddamites are just as much cold-blooded killers as Saddam himself? Yes, indeed; you-know-who.
When one tries to learn more about the lawyers' murders, the plot gets very thick indeed. Here, for example, is the Telegraph on the subject:
Today's killing has raised further questions as to whether a fair trial can take place amid the violence in Iraq.
Defence lawyers have threatened to boycott the trial unless measures are taken to protect them, and one of the reasons the judge gave for adjourning the trial last month was that witnesses were too scared to turn up...
"There can be no fair trial without providing security for witnesses, judges and lawyers on an equal footing. No trial can take place in such conditions," said Issam Ghazzawi, a spokesman for Saddam's defence team.
Human rights organisations have also expressed concern.
Nicole Choueiry, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, said: "The safety of these people is very important if the trial is to go on.
"It is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and the US military to provide protection."
Makes sense, doesn't it? So then, why haven't these lawyers been protected? Well, see this, from the Hindu:
The assassination of a second lawyer associated with the trial was likely to raise new questions about whether this country can conduct such a sensitive prosecution in the midst of insurgency and domestic turmoil.
Following al-Janabi's death, members of the defence team said they had suspended further dealings with the special court until their safety is guaranteed...
[Head of Saddam's defense team] Al-Ubaidi said that the entire defence team had rejected an offer of guards from the Interior Ministry, pointing to frequent Sunni Arab accusations that ministry forces or Shiite militias linked to the government have killed members of the minority that was dominant under Saddam.
He said then that they were talking with U.S. officials about getting protection from American troops. But a later defence team statement said that it would seek United Nations protection for the Iraqi lawyers because they do not trust either the U.S. military or the Iraqi government to ensure their safety.
Saddam's defence team, which includes some 1,500 lawyers who act as advisers, is led by Khalid al-Dulaimi and Abdel Haq Alani, an Iraqi-born lawyer based in Britain. Alani is the top legal consultant to Saddam's daughter, Raghad, and believed to be backbone of defence team.
I can't really blame them for not trusting the Iraqi government to protect them, to tell you the truth; I would imagine the motivation to do so would be a little weak. But the Amnesty spokesperson above is the very definition of a useful idiot, I'm afraid--either simply ignorant or willfully deceptive--because it seems clear that the defense will not accept protection from either the Iraqi government or the US.
Note the continual calls for UN involvement and the movement of the trial into a "neutral" (read: western European?) country--a country, no doubt, with an anti-US agenda, no death penalty, and even perhaps a history of being on the take from defendant Saddam:
[al-Dulaimi] blamed the government for Tuesday's attack...
``The aim of these organized attacks is to scare Arab and foreign lawyers,'' al-Dulaimi said. ``We call upon the international community, on top of them the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to send an investigative committee because the situation is unbearable.''
He called for moving Saddam and his colleagues into a neutral country. Al-Dulaimi said defence lawyers do not recognize the trial's next date which comes on Nov. 28.
Who is al-Dulaimi? I haven't been too successful in finding much information. But he certainly doesn't seem to fit the picture of the public defender, reluctantly taking on the case because he knows that the rule of law requires that even the likes of Saddam needs a defense lawyer for the trial to be fair.
No, al-Dulaimi has quite a different agenda. This interview in Der Spiegel makes it clear he reveres Saddam and considers the trial illegitimate. A few quotes:
The trial will be adjourned. The last chapter in Saddam Hussein's life has not yet begun...The entire proceeding [the trial] is a farce...Although I am aware that this is not as much a criminal trial as a political process, I cannot imagine that the Iraqi judges will give in to pressure by the US occupiers...Neither the so-called governing council, which the former American governor appointed, nor the current Iraqi government are legitimate...By law, Saddam is still the head of state. The American invaders and occupiers deposed him and took him prisoner after having destroyed Iraq. Now they are using the law of the strong to impose their will and walk all over Iraqi laws...As far as I am concerned, the current government also lacks all legitimacy.
Clearly, al-Dulaimi is not just a defense attorney, but a die-hard supporter who seems to believe time is on his--and Saddam's--side. And does anyone else hear the following sentence: I cannot imagine that the Iraqi judges will give in to pressure by the US occupiers--as a possible veiled threat?
Please note the following excerpt from this
article, which appeared in the Telegraph after the first killing of a defense lawyer, back in late October:
The killing raised worries about the viability of staging the emotionally charged case in Iraq.
Although heavy protection exists for the judges and prosecutors, security does not appear to have been provided for the defence team, all 12 of whom had been publicly named.
Mr Janabi, a friend of Saddam, is understood to have had no bodyguards at the time of his abduction.
Here we have the typical reaction--the trial may need to be moved--and the assertion (without further explanation) that the defense team has not been provided with security.
But the last sentence seems curiouser and curiouser. If Janabi had been offered but refused Iraqi government and/or US protection--as the entire defense team had done, apparently--why did he not have any bodyguards at all? Surely some could have been found? So his guardless state (if indeed this was even true) makes no sense to me, unless he was set up.
I don't pretend to know what's going on; these are mere speculations, gleaned from a few news articles that may not even be correct in their facts. But even a quick check of the Iraqi blogs didn't reveal any inside information on the topic (if anyone can find anything, please post it in the comments).
So Roger, you write mystery novels--got any ideas?