Alawi Saddam Will Be Tried In Secret

Alawi: Saddam will be Tried in Secret; Withdrawal Timeline for US Troops to be Negotiated

Saddam’s trial is unlikely to be public, according to Iyad Alawi, member of the Interim Governing Council and head of the Iraqi National Accord (mainly ex-Baathist officers who cooperated in 1990s CIA plots against Saddam). Alawi made the remarks in an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper. He said there would probably be no public trial because “it is possible that he will mention names of states or persons to whom he gave money . . .” Asked if Saddam had admitted to smuggling money abroad, Alawi replied, “He has begun to admit it. He has confessed to important things.” [Saddam is thought to have squirreled $30 bn. or more away in secret accounts overseas.]

Alawi said of the trial of Saddam, “Naturally, it will be an Iraqi trial, before Iraqi judges. You published in al-Hayat that even 3 weeks before his capture, I had completed gathering evidence and confessions from Iraqi intelligence officers, and had forwarded that information to the judge in charge of the official inquiry in Iraq . . .” [including cases against persons who tried to kill Alawi himself] . . . “Now there is a file for his trial in Iraq for the crimes that he committed against the Iraqi people, in an Iraqi court, with Iraqi judges. If other countries have cases against him, they can lodge charges after the Iraqi trial has finished. But I expect the judgment to be clear, in the framework of the Iraqi criminal statutes, that is, he will be executed.”

On the possibility of a public trial for Saddam: “I don’t think so. That subject has not been discussed so far. I don’t believe so. It will be like any other trial for any other criminal, except that Saddam’s crimes have been bewildering, horrifying, and extensive. There is another thing, the possibility that he will mention the names of states and the names of persons to whom he has given bribes and wealth. We don’t want him to mention all that on television. There are lots of existing documents, and we don’t want to worsen Iraq’s relations with others. And we don’t want such matters to be interpreted in irrational or subjective ways.” He said that since other countries, such as Kuwait or Lebanon, might file charges against Saddam, the issues were complex. But the important thing, he said, was that Saddam would be tried in Iraqi courts with full legitimacy and legality.

Alawi, who also serves as coordinator of the Supreme Security Committee on the Interim Governing Council (which oversees Iraqi security and intelligence apparatuses), also spoke of the results of his visit to Washington, DC, three weeks ago. “I want to announce via al-Hayat that important negotiations will be conducted over the next three months to nail down the position of the American forces and the forces of the Coalition, and to specify a timeline for their withdrawal.”

During his present visit to Lebanon, Alawi told Lebanese journalists that he opposes the call by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani for general elections, saying “elections right now are impossible.” On the role of civil administrator Paul Bremer after the return of sovereignty to Iraq on July 1: “He will go home.” He said that the bombings in Iraq are “terrorism, not a resistance.” He denied that he had to get permission from the Americans to meet with the Syrians. “We go to Syria by virtue of a historic relationship with it, and do not speak in the name of America.” He said that the situation with regard to the Syrian border with Iraq has improved continuously [i.e. that there are fewer guerrillas sneaking into Iraq by that route].

I found Alawi’s remarks chilling. The case against Saddam appears likely to proceed as a closed Star Chamber. Alawi, among those in charge of crafting the case, is a plaintiff himself and seemed to imply that he might be involved in a personal injury suit against the former regime! And, Alawi seems to be trying to hold the information that might come out in the trial over the heads of the Jordanian and other regional governments, as a kind of blackmail. Well, at least Rummy won’t have to worry about Saddam going on and on about their close friendship back in the day, on Arab satellite television. Ooops. That’s probably one reason the Bush administration announced with such alacrity that Saddam would be tried in Iraq.