Monday, January 8, 2007

Kurd case against Saddam "moot"

There just seemed something wrong with the rush to execute Saddam Hussein last week. Why were they in such a hurry -- and why did they have to do it, of all days, the same weekend of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the most solemn rituals in Islam? I was thinking there was some unfinished business -- and there was. He was still on trial for ordering the genocide of 180 000 people; and specifically the mustard gas attack in 1988 that murdered 5000.

Today, an Iraqi court declared the Kurdish case against Mr Hussein moot. Since he was dead, there was no point in continuing the prosecution.

What a warped sense of "justice" there is, when someone faces the ultimate punishment whilst another case against him or her is pending. Even most democratic states that retain the death penalty, including the United States, normally do not carry out an execution until any and all appeals are exhausted.

It's this kind of rush to judgment -- or rather revenge -- that's just one reason why I am so against capital punishment. In his death, Hussein has become a martyr not just for Palestinians as he vowed he would be, but for all Muslims -- including ironcially the Kurds, who are mostly Muslim but feel they have been cheated out of their sense of justice. And the consequences could be incalculable. In my humble opinion, Saddam Hussein may have been convicted of the Dujail atrocity but he was executed for ordering an assassination attempt on George Bush Senior.

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