Saddam faces justice

The world watches on as Iraq enters a new era of fairness — but can it prove itself? A timely reminder that the world is rid of a terrible tyrant was delivered last week as the trial of Saddam Hussein opened in Baghdad. Despite the many and various reservations one may have on the war in Iraq, the spectacle of the former brutal dictator made to answer for his crimes against humanity is a cause for rejoicing. The mass graves that are scattered across the desert are testament to the evil regime that survived through fear and suppression. Now the sight of the bearded former strongman looking bewildered and lost should act as some relief to a brutalised society in transition.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  October 23, 2005

|~||~||~|The world watches on as Iraq enters a new era of fairness — but can it prove itself? A timely reminder that the world is rid of a terrible tyrant was delivered last week as the trial of Saddam Hussein opened in Baghdad. Despite the many and various reservations one may have on the war in Iraq, the spectacle of the former brutal dictator made to answer for his crimes against humanity is a cause for rejoicing. The mass graves that are scattered across the desert are testament to the evil regime that survived through fear and suppression. Now the sight of the bearded former strongman looking bewildered and lost should act as some relief to a brutalised society in transition. With Saddam’s evil brutality consigned to history, Iraq’s new rulers should use the trial to help the process of nation-building and refuse to allow it to be exploited to fuel already heightened political and sectarian tensions. Some claim Saddam should be hauled before some far-away tribunal to guarantee complete impartiality and judicial probity. Human rights activists are already creating a clamour claiming the tribunal process falls short of the international standards of fairness. But when did Saddam ever supply the gassed masses or the suppressed Shia with such legal courtesies? Tactically, the court has chosen to begin with the little publicised massacre of villagers in Dujail in 1982, rather than with better-known incidents, on the ground that there is more documentary evidence to convict. This unfortunately conjures up the potential of allegations of political expediency. It is questionable whether the short-lived transitional government, whose authority hardly extends beyond the blast-walls of the Green Zone defended by American guns, really has the authority to preside over such a momentous issue. Having waited this long, it would have been better to wait for the creation of the new permanent government that will be elected in December. Still, the date is set. Iraq’s judiciary must now prove that it scrupulously respects the international norms that Saddam ignored. It is not only Saddam Hussein who will be on trial, but also Iraq’s embryonic democracy. ||**||Hurricane blast|~||~||~|Yet another hurricane is bearing down on the Gulf coast of America, sending the moneymen and oil brokers reaching for the panic buttons again. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have already taken their deadly toll in terms of human life as well as sending the cost of oil through the roof. A third vicious storm may yet cause even more damage to a production and refining infrastructure that’s already on the precipice. With higher oil prices good for this region in the short-term, it is also very clear that blow after blow cannot be absorbed by the US economy. With many US companies having to pay more for transportation and overheads, the Middle East can ill afford for them to slip out of business and the demand for oil to drop substantially. The house of cards is still standing, but how many more knocks can it suffer without collapsing? ||**||Uniting against bird flu|~||~||~|Two weeks ago Arabian Business called on drug maker Roche to look at increasing the production capacity of its bird flu antiviral drug by biting the bullet and approaching their fiercest rivals for assistance. The Swiss-based company must be applauded after it announced last week that it has started licensing production of the drug to other manufacturers and governments to secure adequate emergency supplies in the event of the looming pandemic. It is clear the baton has been handed over and it is the authorities’ task to deliver their duty of care and responsibility to their citizens. They must take the lead of Roche and start breaking down borders and barriers to tackle this devastating virus and minimise the apocalyptical death toll. Now is the time to save lives through precise and well-ordered planning as well as open communication. ||**||

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