Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Saddam's defense lawyer killed -- Prosecution responds

Saddam's defense team lost yet another member by assassination.

Three gunmen in a speeding car killed a lawyer for a co-defendant in Saddam Hussein's trial and wounded another today in Baghdad, a member of the defense team and police said.

It was the second assassination of a lawyer associated with the trial and was likely to raise new questions about whether this country can conduct such a sensitive prosecution in the midst of insurgency and domestic turmoil.

Defense attorneys already had announced they would not cooperate with the special court trying Saddam and seven other defendants until security was assured.

Grotian Moment Blog has two responses: one by Michael P. Scharf and another by Laura Dickinson. Anyone interested in tracking what promises to be a long and tedious exercise in jurisprudence can take a look.
After the murder of Sadoun Nasouaf al-Janavi, counsel to defendant Awad al-Bander, three weeks ago, the Iraqi Government and the U.S. military each independently offered to provide security for the defense counsel. The defense lawyers declined, saying that they did not trust the Iraqi Government or U.S. military. This was a ploy; a deadly gambit to justify their boycott of the trial and attempt to delay or derail the proceedings.
I think that the judges will end up dealing with this problem by requiring the defense counsel to accept US military protection. If the defense lawyers continue to refuse to do so and to boycott the trial, the judges may tell them that as duly appointed defense counsel, they are officers of the court, and have a responsibility to accept the security and continue to participate in the trial, or they can face sanctions such as fines, imprisonment, and disbarment, and they can be replaced by court-appointed defense counsel who will not play these kinds of high-risk games in an effort to disrupt the proceedings.
Iraqi authorities should thus seriously consider moving the proceedings temporarily to a nearby location such as Dubai. A temporary move would preserve the essentially domestic character of the proceedings yet at the same time would also address the concern that proceedings in Iraq cannot take place fairly due to security concerns. Such a move would would both signal the tribunal’s commitment to secure conditions for all participants as well as help improve actual security on the ground....While the risk of attack on lawyers, judges, defendants, witnesses, and others involved in the proceedings could exist anywhere in the world, the greatest risks undoubtedly are posed within Iraq. Iraqi authorities should thus seriously consider holding proceedings outside the country until the security situation improves.

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