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Iraq tribunal could be seen as kangaroo court, warn human right groups
April 22, 2004 20:09 IST
The appointment of a nephew of Iraqi powerbroker Ahmed Chalabi as head of the tribunal which will try Saddam Hussein and his cronies has evoked concern among human rights groups.
Ahmed Chalabi, a Shia who heads the Iraqi National Congress, is known to have powerful supporters in the Bush Administration and within the Pentagon. A statement issued by the Congress Tuesday said his nephew Salem Chalabi would head the tribunal and that he has already chosen a 11 member team, comprising 7 judges and four prosecutors.
But rights activists fear that such a panel could be seen as a kangaroo court by many Iraqis, who believe the Chalabis to be American agents. This, in turn, could reinforce the suspicion that the American justice system was as politicized as Saddam Hussein's Baath regime had been, they warn.
The Chalabis are also known to be spearheading the campaign to remove former Ba'ath Party activists, mainly Sunnis, from their jobs. Some reports say more than 150,000 people, mostly teachers and government employees, have already been sacked.
Salem Chalabi Wednesday said Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid---better known as "Chemical Ali" for having used chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988---was likely to be among the first Baath officials to be tried by the new tribunal. But no date had been set for trial, and the prosecution team would not be identified until the questioning started in a couple of months, he said.
Saddam Hussein's trial was unlikely to begin before the US presidential elections in November, he said. Hussein is yet to be assigned a lawyer, he added.Rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been consistently campaigning for a tribunal which had international jurists and UN endorsement.