Saddam Hussein has just walked out of his trial in protest at the approach of a new ‘hard-line’ judge.
Judge Rahman moved to immediately stamp his authority on the proceedings and ordered the removal of Mr al-Tikiriti, who hurled insults as he was dragged away.
The judge then rounded on the defence lawyers saying that they had contributed to the atmosphere that allowed defendants to think they could make lengthy speeches and disrespect the authority of the court.
Next, a defence lawyer was ejected from the court, and as a result the rest of Saddam’s defence team stormed out.
I’m all in favour of allowing domestic courts to judge cases, rather than international tribunals, or the international court. But, only if the domestic courts are capable of doing so in a fair and balanced manner.
But, sadly, this trial is descending into farce. Defence lawyers have been killed, and not offered any real protection, and the first judge has been publicly accused by members of the government of being too lenient on the defendants. And now we have a hard-line judge who seems more intent on matching Saddam every step of the way in the game of playing to the audience than he is on ensuring justice.
Any pretence that justice Saddam would get a fair trial – which was vital to assuaging the fears of Iraq’s Sunni majority – is now gone.