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Saddam trial: UN snubs US

October 23, 2004 22:40 IST

In a blow to US, the United Nations has turned down its request to assist Iraqi judges and prosecutors trying ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein saying the special tribunal is empowered to impose death penalty opposed by it and the court's rules also "fail to meet the minimum standards of justice".

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary General Kofi Annan maintains that "UN officials should not be directly involved in extending assistance to any court or tribunal that is empowered to impose the death penalty."

"The Tribunal's rules fail to meet the minimum standards of justice," Dujarric was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. "The Bush administration appealed to UN war crimes tribunal to send some judges and prosecutors to a training
conference in London for members of the Iraqi tribunal. But UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's office sent the court's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, a letter barring her staff from attending the week-long conference, which ended on Monday," Dujarric said.

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He told a news conference at the UN headquarters on Friday that "serious doubts exist regarding the capability of the
Iraqi special tribunal to meet relevant international standards." The UN, Dujarric said, is constrained in its ability
to cooperate with the court without a "specific mandate" from "a competent political organ" such as the UN Security Council or the General Assembly.

"The decision", said The Post, "was a blow to the US and Iraq's interim government which had hoped that a UN
imprimatur on the court's activities would lead to greater international credibility".

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