Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Saddam's Judge: Former Regime officials still Under Investigation Despite release by U.S. Military

I think this shows a bit of a disconnect between the government and the judicial system. It seems that the government directed the US to release these folks, possibly as part of an agreement with insurgent tribes or groups, or in order to bring in certain political groups? It was not done through judicial review and any sort of bail agreement to bind them over for trial.

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Senior officials in Saddam Hussein’s former regime will remain under investigation, despite being released by the U.S. military in December, Raid Juhi, an Iraqi Special Tribunal judge revealed Tuesday.

Eight senior officials in the former Iraqi government were released on 19 December, including two former ministers. US military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson said Tuesday, “The eight high-value detainees had been freed a month ago, in total accord with the Iraqi government.” He added, “Most were detained for war crimes or testimonies that can be used against the former regime.”

Juhi disputed these claims and indicated, ‘As a tribunal, we did not release any members of the former regime. Officially, we consider those who have been freed as fugitives from justice wanted for questioning, especially as some of those released are wanted by our tribunal for crimes against humanity and human rights breaches.”

“We were not informed by any official party and did not receive any documents that indicated several senior officials in the former regime were released. However, we learned about this in a non-official and illegal manner. This is why we consider them fugitives from justice and we will investigate them and arrest them with all available means. One way of doing this is to ask Interpol to detain them and hand them over to the Iraqi legal authorities.”

In either case, this bodes ill for the judicial process in Iraq if it can be arbitrarily over turned by the government without even the appearance of going through bail motions. Further, one wonders if that is even appropriate in a setting for crimes against the Iraqi people by leaders. This isn't a case of citizen crime on citizen, but the entire government complicit in torture, illegal imprisonment and murder, just to name a few.

It's confusing to both the "Arab street" and "Americans" I think.Saddam's Judge: Former Regime officials still Under Investigation Despite release by U.S. Military

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