[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Dec 5 10:28:03 CST 2005
Saddam's trial will not be fair, says United Nations
The UN said yesterday said that Saddam Hussein's trial would never satisfy
international standards because of ongoing violence and flaws in Iraq's
John Case, the UN's human rights chief in Iraq, said the murder of two
defence lawyers, continued threats against judges, lawyers and witnesses
and weaknesses in the Iraqi justice system had caused grave doubts about
the trial's legitimacy.
"We're very anxious about the tribunal [trying Saddam]," he told Reuters
in an interview. "The legitimacy of the tribunal needs to be examined. It
has been seriously challenged in many quarters."
The court resumes today after a week's adjournment. The chief judge,
Rizgar Amin, had suspended the hearing for 7 days to allow two of Saddam's
seven co-defendants - former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan and Barzan
al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother - to appoint new lawyers after one was
killed and another fled abroad. Another defence lawyer has also been shot
"There is already a paralysis in the legitimacy of the defence," said Mr
Case. "We believe that weakness in the system of administration of
justice, in addition to the antecedents surrounding the establishment of
this tribunal, will never be able to produce the kind of process that
would be able to satisfy international standards."
The UN has no official role in the trial but has called for an independent
probe into the deaths of the lawyers. Mr Case's comments add to a growing
chorus of international human rights and justice groups who argue that a
fair trial is impossible under current conditions in Iraq. There have been
calls for the trial to be delayed, moved to safer venues such as the
Kurdistan region or abroad to the international criminal court in The
Adding to the febrile atmosphere, Iraqi authorities said yesterday they
had uncovered a plot by Sunni Arab insurgents to fire rockets at the court
building during today's session. On the eve of last week's trial session,
eight Sunni Arabs from Tikrit were arrested for planning to assassinate
the chief investigative judge, Judge Raed al-Juhi. In another attack on
the judiciary, a suicide car bomber targeted the house of a senior judge,
Midhat al-Mahmoudi, in Baghdad yesterday but failed to breach security. It
also emerged that one of the five-judge panel trying Saddam had removed
himself from the case after learning that one of the defendants may have
been involved in his brother's execution. Officials said a replacement had
Tensions are also rising in the run-up to the national election on
December 15. On an election tour in the Shia holy city of Najaf, the
former prime minister Ayad Allawi said he was attacked at a shrine by
armed loyalists of Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric.
In Saddam's trial today the 1st prosecution witnesses to testify in person
are expected to give evidence about the deaths of 148 Shia villagers
following an assassination attempt against Saddam. So far the court has
heard only videotaped testimony from a former intelligence chief who has
since died from cancer. Saddam and 7 of his former colleagues face the
death penalty if found guilty of crimes against humanity. It is unclear
how long the trial will last. The fitful progress so far has seen Saddam
spend only six hours in court since the trial began on October 19.
(source: The Guardian)
Soldier's execution stirs Pakistan
The execution of a Pakistani soldier on charges of trying to assassinate
Pervez Musharraf and findings of investigations into the 2 attempts made
in December 2003 has sent alarm bells ringing in the country's ruling
circles, a media report has said.
The "unprecedented execution" of Pakistan Army's Sepoy Abdul Islam
Siddiqui in Multan some weeks ago on charges of plotting the assassination
"in collaboration with the Jaish-e -Mohammad was a clear indication that
Gen. Musharraf wants to deal with "internal rebellion with an iron hand,"
Pakistani magazine Newsline said in a report. The sepoy, Abdul, was among
those soldiers who were arrested in South Waziristan for "committing and
abetting defiance" among soldiers.
According to the chargesheet, the magazine said Abdul had "prior knowledge
of those within the Pakistan Air Force who wanted to kill Gen Musharraf
but never reported them to the authorities." The prosecution alleged that
he was associated with the "Shuhada Foundation, an organisation of the air
force personnel several of whose officers wanted to eliminate Musharraf
Quoting "well-placed military sources," it said over 30 officers of the
Pakistan Army and Air Force were detained in Attock Fort, while 20 are
facing court martial proceedings at the Kharian and Panu Aqil Army
Cantonments for their involvement in the assassination attempts against
Musharraf on 14 and 25 December, 2003.
"The Foundation was originally set up by the Inter- Services Intelligence
(ISI) to support bereaved families of those soldiers of the Pakistan Army
who were sent to fight Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir," it said. It
said the execution of Abdul was meant to send a "clear message" to the
jihadi groups that their days are over and they would be booted out.
(source: Press Trust of India)
DEATH TO DEATH PENALTY
ONE Aussie website has banned access to Singapore users.
Activists have called for a boycott of Singapore companies.
But while emotions are still running high in the wake of the execution of
drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van on Friday, uncomfortable questions have
begun to emerge.
Does Australia really oppose the death penalty as stongly as it claims it
does, or only when it applies to Australians?
Indeed, does it even approve of the penalty when terrorists are put to
death for killing Australians?
Australia leads international campaigns against capital punishment. It
refuses to extradite accused criminals if they face death upon conviction.
Yet, it was silent when those convicted of killing Australians in bomb
attacks in Indonesia received the penalty.
Yesterday, Prime Minister John Howard said his opposition to capital
punishment did not extend to former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, who is
on trial in Bagdad for genocide.
'It's not hypocritical, it's just human,' he said on Melbourne radio.
'You bring your own subjective judgment about the quality of the behaviour
involved in the action that has led to the imposition of the death
But it is precisely that judgement call that disturbs pressure groups like
Amnesty International, which maintain that all forms of capital punishment
should be abolished.
Said Mr Tim Goodwin, Amnesty's anti-death penalty campaign coordinator, on
ABC radio yesterday: 'This message has not been lost on the region that
the Australian government has signalled its approval for particular
executions, while seeming to pull out all stops to defend an Australian
'We can't use the measure of who should be exempted from the death penalty
simply as the fact they're an Australian citizen.
'It's a double standard and fatally undermines Australia's credibility.'
Both the Australian government and the public supported the death penalty
handed down to the men convicted of the bombing in Bali in 2002 that
killed 202 people, including 88 Australian tourists, reported the
International Herald Tribune.
'In these particular circumstances we won't be making any representations
against the sentence,' Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said at the time.
After 2 men were sentenced to death for bombing the Australian Embassy in
Jakarta last year, he added: 'Whatever we may think about the death
penalty, the fact that these people have been convicted is a very good
Australian politicians will regret their failure to condemn these
sentences, said Mr Kevin O'Rourke, from the NSW Council for Civil
'Those comments were unfortunate to say the least,' he said.
'Anything that looks as though Australia is giving tacit support to the
death penalty should be avoided.'
Australia, which abolished the death penalty in 1973, currently has 12
citizens facing the death penalty around the world, and a further 2 on
death row after being sentenced to die.
Most are facing drug charges in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia and
Nguyen's lawyer, Queen's Counsel Lex Lasry, hopes the debate will prompt
the Australian government to take a stronger line against the death
penalty in general.
'There are cases ahead, difficult cases ahead that the Australian
Government will have to deal with,' he said.
'They've shown us great support from the beginning and we would ask that
they formalise a strong policy so that Australia case take a lead in this
region in particular.'
In the meantime, some Australians who opposed Nguyen's hanging have taken
matters into their own hands.
A New Paper on Sunday reader reported last night that the popular digital
media hosting website Putfile.com, which is based in Australia, had locked
out Singapore users.
'We shall be happy to restore service following any positive move from the
Government of Singapore towards abolition of hanging,' reads a notice on
Other anti-death penalty activists have called for a boycott of Optus, the
Australian subsidiary of SingTel, while the Australian Transport Workers
Union threatened to withdraw ground services to Singapore Airlines.
(source: The Electric New Paper)
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