Semi-insiders’ account of how fallen president Saddam Hussein ended up being tried by the Iraqi High Tribunal in Baghdad and executed on Dec. 30, 2006.
Scharf (Law/Case Western Reserve) previously worked at the U.S. State Department, where he helped devise the mechanisms for prosecuting heads of state including Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Liberia’s Charles Taylor. Newton (Law/Vanderbilt Univ.), a West Point graduate, later taught at the U.S. Military Academy and also worked for the State Department as an advisor on war crimes. Both of them spent time in Iraq helping train the judges who would preside at the trials of Hussein and dozens of lesser-known Iraqi officials complicit in his regime. Those attempting to rule Iraq after the U.S. government intervened wanted advice on the means for determining consequences of Hussein’s regime for the tyrant himself. The focal point of the narrative is the town of Dujail, where a 1982 attack on Hussein’s visiting convoy led to retribution that included the execution of at least 148 Dujail residents. Those deaths formed the basis of the prosecution against Hussein after his capture by U.S. military forces on Dec. 13, 2003. Newton and Scharf explain to the best of their ability what really occurred at Dujail, as well as the significance of evidence about that event in determining Hussein’s fate. Throughout the book, they emphasize the importance of nations operating under the rule of law to punish those who have ignored or flouted both national and international laws. They defend Hussein’s trial against a highly critical report published by Human Rights Watch, noting that the trial was televised “gavel-to-gavel” in Iraq and that the judge had to deal with “a defendant and his lawyers whose trial strategy was to be as disruptive as possible.” Because the narrative relies on numerous obscure legal concepts and practices, the authors wisely include a glossary.
Often technical, but always educational, explaining how nations invent forums to reckon with extraordinary evil.