Judge in Saddam Trial Could Face Prosecution in Britain

Giovanni Di Stefano, an Italian lawyer and former member of Saddam Hussein’s legal defense team, applied to Britain’s Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, for leave to prosecute former Iraqi High Tribunal judge Raouf Abdel Rahman in March 2007 alleging that Judge Rahman wilfilly deprived Saddam and his cohorts of the fair trail guaranteed them by Art. 130 of the Geneva Conventions Act of 1957. Judge Rahman presided over the final 2/3 of the Dujail trial, and sentenced Saddam to death. (Di Stefano’s request)

Judge Rahman fled Iraq with his family for Britain in December 2006, two weeks before Saddam was hanged. He has requested asylum and is currently residing in an undisclosed location within the United Kingdom. To prevail on an asylum request, the judge must demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” connected to his race, ethnicity, religion, politics or membership in a particular social group. Both judges and staff of the Iraqi High Tribunal have regularly been targeted by assassins. (Times story)

Lord Goldsmith replied to the prosecution request on April 16, 2007, seeking the evidence that Mr. Di Stefano intends to rely upon to prove his case against Judge Rahman. (AG’s letter) Mr. Di Stefano is in the process of producing that evidence which will, no doubt, be supported by the findings of the United Naitons High Commissioner for Human Rights and various NGO’s such as Human Rights Watch that Saddam’s trial was not a fair and independent undertaking as guaranteed by the Geneva Conventions. He expects to be granted leave to indict Judge Rahman in the Central Criminal Court in London, noting that Judge Rahman “has sought the protection of the United Kingdom. He must now abide by its jurisdiction and laws.” (JURIST posting)

If Di Stefano prevails on his evidentiary showing and satisfies the Attorney General that such a prosecution should go forward, it would be a serious blow to the already questionable credibility of the Iraqi High Tribunal. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has denied that Judge Rahman has sought asylum in Britian, contending that he is merely on a well-deserved holiday abroad. The judge, however, has yet to return to Baghdad. He is now faced with the possibility that he never will.