Monday, November 06, 2006

The Fate of a Dictator

The Fate of a Dictator

Ali Asghar Kazemi
November 5, 2006

Dictator, despot, tyrant, oppressor…! What else you want to call Saddam Hussein, the “butcher of Baghdad” on whose orders thousand of innocent people were killed during his long reign of terror? What is the difference of how we call a dictator whose fate has been decided today by a domestic tribunal in Baghdad? He was convicted for his crimes against humanity, but surely he is also guilty of war crimes, genocide, aggression, violence for which he should be tried in due time.

Such is the destiny of a brutal dictator who still considers himself the president and leader of Iraq and who was pitifully turning his head around the court-room for approval of his nationalistic slogans while the chief justice was reading the verdict.

Death penalty by hanging, such is the final decision of the court only for the atrocities of the dictator in Al-Dujail incident. The basic charges for which Saddam’s horrendous acts has been prosecuted were in the category of “Crime against Humanity.” This means that according to the international criminal law heads of states and high officials are susceptible to prosecution for their misdeeds in their own countries.

We don’t want to dig into the legal or procedural aspects of the case in which Saddam Hussein and his collaborate were tried in a slow and nerve consuming court. Our aim is only to portray briefly the psychology of a despot who up to the last minute did not want to believe his fateful destiny and tried once again to deceive Iraqi people and his nation by chanting patriotic slogans; “long live the people!” “death to traitors and occupiers!” “God is great!”… In his left hand he kept the Holy Koran and pointing his right hand finger to the Judge, he accused him as being the puppet of foreigners. So what? The truth of the matter is that somebody gave a hand to the Iraqi people to bring the dictator to justice.

But, will the justice be really served by merely hanging the dictator before public eyes in Baghdad; if this ever happens in the present circumstances? There are numerous other crimes committed by Saddam not only against his own people but also against Iranians and Kuwaitis. Those who have felt and experienced Saddam’s atrocities during the eight-year war against Iran will have no pity for him. Although personally I am against capital punishment, if some day Saddam is executed, the everlasting wishes of Iranians will also be fulfilled.

What else could be done in order to deter those dictators who are still committing the same crimes around the world? Could these atrocities be prevented at least during the last decade of Saddam’s rule i.e. after American invasion to crash Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait in January 1991? Should the punishment be considered merely as revenge against a person or few people who ordered or committed the acts?

Is this an appropriate sentence that satisfies world public conscience for crime against humanity? What should be done in order to prevent similar events to occur in other places? Are international regimes, norms and rules sufficiently appropriate to tackle effectively with this curse?

We shall discuss the matter in our future comments. /

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