Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general and leftist anti-war activist, announced yesterday he has joined the defense team of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Clark made the announcement in Amman, Jordan, and took the opportunity to slam the Bush administration, saying the U.S. should be tried for alleged “war crimes” in Fallujah, Iraq.
According to a report by Agence France-Presse, fellow Saddam lawyer Ziad Khasawna said Clark’s presence on the ex-dictator’s legal team “honored and inspired” the other attorneys.
Clark arrived Tuesday in Amman, where Saddam’s legal team is based. Besides meeting with other lawyers, Clark met with Saddam’s two daughters who live in Jordan.
The attorney general during the Johnson administration, Clark visited Hussein in Baghdad in February 2003 just before the U.S.-led invasion. He first met the dictator prior to the first Gulf War. The news service reports Clark has also been involved with the defense of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, on trial for war crimes in The Hague.
Clark decried the fact Saddam saw a lawyer for the first time one year after his capture.
“In international law, anyone accused of crime has the right to be tried by a confident, independent and impartial court, and there can be no fair trail without those qualities,” he told reporters.
“The special court in Iraq was created by the Iraqi governing council, which is nothing more than a creation of the U.S. military occupation and has no authority in law as a criminal court.”
Referring to the former despot as “President Saddam Hussein,” Clark says it’s the U.S. that should go on trial, pointing to last month’s siege of Falluja, destruction of houses, alleged torture in prisons and the military’s role in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.
A Baghdad court ruled in July that Saddam faced seven preliminary charges, with more precise charges to follow.
“It’s selective prosecution and it’s the worst form,” Clark said. “You pick your enemies and you prejudge the case and you go through the formalities and you convict them.”
Clark called the U.S. “an arrogant power that is not dealing with rights.”
Reuters quotes Clark as saying Saddam’s defense could take years to prepare with many witnesses who would have to testify, among them world leaders and politicians.
“Assuming Saddam Hussein is going to be tried you have to prepare the defense and that’s an enormous task maybe two years of prosecution evidence and hundreds of witnesses,” he said.
The Iraqi government has announced it will begin trying several of Hussein’s henchmen soon with proceedings likely to begin before the Jan. 30 elections.
Clark, who runs the International Action Center, a front group for the communist Workers World Party, is a longtime critic of Bush foreign policy, referring to the president’s actions as “criminal offenses, they are high crimes, they are indictable offenses, and they are impeachable offenses.”