Once a dictator….

Saddam Hussein courtroom

Anything look peculiar about this Baghdad courtroom in which the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was to continue Tuesday?

“One of the judges suffered a high-blood pressure attack and I just saw him in the hospital,” one of Hussein’s lawyers, the former Qatari justice minister Najib al-Nuami told AFP.

Rauf Rashid Abdel Rahman, who was appointed as the presiding judge after the December resignation of Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, was apparently angered by excessive security measures at the courthouse when he cancelled the proceedings.

The trial was postponed until Sunday because “some witnesses and complainants were away on pilgrimage to Mecca and did not show up” according to The Washington Post.

Tuesday was the scheduled date for the trial’s resumption after a month long recess preceded the resignation of Amin last week. The trial, which began in October 2005, was postponed for 40 days shortly after it began.

There was palpable contention regarding the sudden assignment this week of Abdel Rahman — a Kurd — as presiding judge, his first involvement in the case.

The Shiite judge Said al-Hammashi, who was chosen by the remaining judges to succeed Amin, was suddenly removed from the case entirely at the insistence of Iraq’s de-Baathification committee.

The sensible solution comes from Iraqi Vice President and leading prime ministerial candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi, who apparently recommends execution without trial as the most righteous and painless solution to the fiasco that may or may not become Saddam Hussein’s trial: “The continuing process is unnecessary and will only hurt the Iraqi people.”

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Is this foreshadowing how hard it might be to get current and future dictatorial leaders to stand trial?

Will we live to see either a) Saddam Hussein on trial, b) Bush / Cheney / andor Rumsfeld on trial, c) any semblance of “democracy” in Iraq d) ???

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