A day after it opened, the trial of Saddam Hussein is already highlighting Iraq’s deep social divisions. For many, the nature of the trial itself is being called into question. Shi’ites and Kurds, long oppressed under the former dictator’s regime, say it should be over quickly, with just one possible outcome.
“It’s not a fair trial,” says another. “If it was fair, they would have sentenced Saddam to death.” But for others, including the majority of Sunnis, the process is deeply flawed. “The trial is wrong,” one man said. “It’s unreasonable that somebody who is collaborating with American troops can try an Iraqi citizen.” The charges relate to the killing of over 140 men from the village of Dujail, following a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein in 1982. Saddam and seven other defendants were defiant on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. The sight of the former Iraqi leader in a courtroom dock was something many Iraqis had longed for. But they will have to wait until the end of November for his next appearance, in a trial expected to drag on for months.