Ex-judge defends Dujail executions

April 07, 2006|By SOLOMON MOORE

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A former judge for Saddam Hussein's revolutionary court took the stand yesterday at the Iraqi tribunal and insisted that the death sentences he imposed on 148 Shiite Muslims in 1982 were lawful.

The elderly Awad Bandar defended his decision to condemn the accused residents of Dujail to death, saying that they were found guilty of joining a banned political party and conspiring with Iran during Iraq's war with the neighboring nation.

Hussein, who offered a spirited defense Wednesday, did not attend yesterday's hearing. He and seven co-defendants are being tried by a special tribunal for crimes against humanity for the execution of the 148 Dujail residents, ordered after an attempt on Hussein's life during a 1982 visit to the village.

Bandar cast himself as a dutiful judge who had no choice according to the law but to hand down the 1982 death sentences in the Dujail case.

"They tried to carry out a coup," Bandar said of the accused Shiites. "This was first announced in the Iranian media, and they all confessed of having allied with Iran."

He insisted that his panel "was a legal and just court."

Bandar acknowledged that membership in the then-outlawed Dawa Party, now a leading political power within the Iraqi government, was punishable by death.

Bandar argued that the Dujail residents he condemned received a full trial and appeals process within 16 days, the time between their arrest and executions. He insisted that he worked 9 a.m. to midnight each day on the case. However, he said all 148 defendants were represented by a single attorney appointed by his court.

Bandar said the court used medical personnel to certify that all the accused were adults. When prosecutor Jafar Moussawi presented identity documents of one 15-year-old who was executed, Bandar said they were fakes.

Bandar insisted that the intelligence services were directly responsible for the executions, as they had handed over to his court evidence on the Dujail residents.

As Bandar defended himself, Kurdish officials announced the discovery of a series of mass graves containing 1,000 corpses near the northern city of Kirkuk.

Kurdish officials said a laborer found the graves while he was digging on a construction site. They said the majority of the victims appear to have been Kurds allegedly killed by Hussein's regime.

Solomon Moore writes for the Los Angeles Times. The Times' Ali Windawi contributed to this article from Kirkuk.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.