RAMSEY Clark, a former US attorney general who is one of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers, said on Thursday that any death sentence against the former Iraqi president would increase violence in the strife-torn country.
‘It seems clear that a guilty verdict will set off catastrophic violence’ and that a death sentence would be even worse, Clark told a Washington press conference.
‘It’s hard to know how many Iraqis, dozens, hundreds, thousands, will die because of the sentence,’ he said.
A date for a verdict in the crimes against humanity trial of Saddam and seven co-accused, which opened in October, 2005, is due to be set soon after it resumes on October 16.
If Saddam is found guilty and sentenced to death, Iraqi law lays down that he should be executed within 30 days, said Clark.
The US attorney general from 1967-69 reaffirmed his belief that the court is illegal because it was set up only to try Saddam. He criticised the judges because they were ‘selected, trained, paid, protected by the United States.’
Saddam and his co-defendants, including a half brother Barzan al-Tikriti, are on trial for a crackdown on a Shi’ite town of Dujail following an assassination attempt in 1982.
He also has a separate trial for genocide against Iraq’s Kurdish minority in the 1988 Anfal campaign.
Meanwhile, more and more US soldiers are falling victim to the battle to wrest control of Baghdad’s streets from death squads and sectarian militias.
‘As far as US casualties go, this has been a hard week for the US forces,’ coalition spokesman Major General William Caldwell told reporters on Wednesday. ‘We have lost 18 American service members in about the last 96 hours.’
Later the same day, coalition headquarters announced that four more soldiers had been killed in a coordinated mortar and gun attack southwest of the city.