Legal Muse

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with 8 comments

Ra’id Juhi Hamadi al-Saedi (Judge Juhi) came to GW today to speak about the Iraqi High Tribunal, on which he was the chief investigative judge. Here are some things that struck me.

1. People were shocked hearing about some of the mass graves that were found. As usual, the media here hasn’t highlighted the good that coalition forces have done by removing a violent dictator. Also, he told some compelling stories about how much people wanted vengeance on Saddam. I think some of the students were imagining themselves as being citizens of pre-liberation Iraq, and how horrible that must have been.

2. The larger issue with these mass graves was that due to security concerns, a small city had to be built around the sites. Each city cost 5 Million dollars. This was largely US funded. Out of 250 mass grave sites, I think they excavated and investigated 5. Each of these had to be evidentially linked to Saddam in order for them to be damning.

3. He highlighted the enormity of the trial. 21 tons of documents had to be sifted through.

4. Over the past 100 years, there had been several regime changes in Iraq, normally executed (pun intended) by killing the royal family. The legal community felt that it was IMPERATIVE that the trial of Saddam be done with due process, in order to highlight the legitimacy of the new government, and to create a clear distinction between the new government and older legitimate regimes. It was an attempt to step into the modern world.

5. The reason an International War Crimes Court wasn’t set up (like in Kosovo) was because of the U.N. Security Counsel. 3 of the 5 members didn’t support the war, and made it impossible to create the court. As a result, Iraq ended up hiring independent international experts, equal for the prosecution and defense, in order to establish a legitimate domestic trial.

6. This brand new judicial system was created out of FIRE. It’s not as though they had hundreds of years of legal precedent to fall back on. The first real trial of this legal system was not on some insignificant legal incident to help work the kinks out. The first trial was of a King. He stressed that if they had messed it up, the legal system would never have recovered.


Written by DMN

October 16, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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8 Responses

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  1. Look at you!


    October 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  2. Look at that SUIT! I love it.


    October 18, 2008 at 7:31 pm

  3. Lol. I’ve had a couple of people comment on that suit.


    October 18, 2008 at 8:15 pm

  4. fascinating! what a worthwhile visiting speaker. did he mention where he was educated? I’m really curious.


    October 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

  5. He is a graduate of Iraq’s Judicial Institute.


    October 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm

  6. cool. I haven’t heard much about the quality of education in Iraq…I didn’t know if they even had colleges.

    And that rocks that he is at Cornell. What an experience for both parties.


    October 19, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  7. I’m not sure how much it really mattered. If I understood him correctly, I think they basically made a whole new legal code (with elements of both the British and French systems) after the liberation.


    October 19, 2008 at 11:21 pm

  8. Right- which is amazing! So my fascination is this: Unless he was self-taught…I would imagine that he gained an understanding and respect for those systems through an educator/education system- which, if true, is great and (I think) really surprising news.

    One of the most frustrating aspects of working with extremist regimes is the absence of a rational ideology (and therefore a lack of mutual understanding)…and a lot of this has to do with limited means for education and, for lack of a better word, worldliness in general.

    Anyway, as a future educator, the quality and effects of education will always be interesting to me.


    October 20, 2008 at 6:43 am

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