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Author Topic: Trials and Tribulations: U.S. and Saddam  (Read 6391 times)
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« on: May 10, 2004, 08:55:03 AM »

The French lawyer Jacques Vergès reveals how he plans to secure a not-guilty verdict for his latest client - Saddam Hussein

By Robert Chalmers, news.independent.co.uk

"It's in English," Vergès said, "a language I don't speak fluently. I've sent it to be translated. But I can tell you that the papers contain a word-for-word exchange between an Iraqi diplomat and Henry Kissinger. And Kissinger is basically saying: "Our intelligence is disheartening - it indicates that you are supported by the USSR. Conditions exist whereby contacts may be re-established; the US and Iraq can become allies."

"Whatever the level of western hypocrisy in this affair," I ask Vergès, "how can you contemplate defending a man who ordered the gassings at Halabja and who, according to a study by the group Human Rights Watch, was responsible for the death of up to 100,000 Kurdish non-combatants in the first eight months of 1988 alone?"

"My position on that, as a defence lawyer," replies Vergès, "is that you must first prove to me those acts were committed, and secondly that they were committed by Saddam Hussein. But in any case - even if those things were done on his orders - they were done with weapons supplied by the US. If you provide a country with poison gas and biological weapons it is for one purpose only. When a crime is committed, you can't pursue only one of the guilty parties."

"The charge against the US being?"

"Complicity, by reason of supplying the means to commit a crime. I don't see how, in an international court of law, the Americans * could begin to justify supplying Iraq with chemical weapons. And there is absolutely no doubt that they did."

"While we're on the subject, wasn't it Jacques Chirac who provided Saddam Hussein with nuclear materials, for a power station, at a time when it was known he might have alternative ambitions for those supplies?"

"Yes," says Vergès, "but nothing came of that, because the Israelis destroyed the material on the ground."

The Americans, he insists, are guilty of complicity "at every stage". "They gave Saddam Hussein the green light for the attack on Kuwait," he alleges, referring to remarks made by April Glaspie, US ambassador to Iraq, eight days before the August 2 1990 invasion; Glaspie told Saddam Hussein the US had "no position" on the dispute between Iraq and its neighbour.

"After the Gulf War," he adds, "the US dropped leaflets inciting the Shi'ites and the Kurds to rebel and, when they did rise up, abandoned them. I will argue that the ultimate effect of that was to make the US co-conspirators with Saddam Hussein." Then there were the economic sanctions, says Vergès, "that resulted, in that famous assessment by the World Health Organisation, in the death of 500,000 children."

Is Tony Blair, according to his thesis, guilty of indictable offences?

"I believe I can demonstrate that the Geneva Convention is breached in Iraq on a daily basis. These are war crimes that can be punished under international penal accords to which Britain is a signatory but the US is not. I am not ruling out action against the British on those grounds."
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