Amir Tahreri in The Times looks forward to the Saddam trial

“According to Khalil al-Dulaimi, who heads Saddam’s team of Arab lawyers, the fallen despot intends to cast himself in the role of “the defender of pan-Arab values”. This should be welcomed by the judges, for it would allow the exercise to assume a greater role: putting on trial the military-security model of statehood that has been the most popular in the Arab world since the Egyptian coup d’état of 1952.

Saddam’s trial should also expose the foreign powers that helped to set up and sustain his murderous regime, and the banquet of corruption at which scores of politicians, diplomats, intellectuals and businessmen, some from Europe and the United States, supped with the devil. An Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations has resigned after being charged with receiving illegal kickbacks from Saddam. One of France’s most senior diplomats is in prison on a similar charge. A former French Home Secretary, several members of the Russian parliament and a dozen Arab media figures have also been exposed.

Saddam is enjoying what he denied his victims: a public trial with defence lawyers of his choice and the rule of evidence taking into account the principle of reasonable doubt. Here a new Iraq, based on the rule of law, will be trying the old Iraq of cruelty and corruption. The Arabs will watch and decide which they would rather live under. The rest of the world should also watch to decide which side to support in the struggle for Iraq’s future.”

Human Rights Watch doesn’t think that the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal is up to the job, and has argued that a mixed domestic-international tribunal – along the lines of the Special Court for Sierra Leone – is the appropriate body to try such a defendant.

Amnesty International has sent a delegation to observe the trial.