One Year After Saddam's Capture

From People's Daily Online

As for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, many things changed in the year since December 13, 2003: last year he fled in panic, utterly isolated, but now he goes in for gardening and, though not so often, he even has a mind to write poems.

However, the US government and troops can not help sighing the 365 days passing so slowly. Iraq is still in turbulence while new problems come out in succession, US troop casualties stay heavy with the trial of Saddam Hussein only in standstill. People must still remember the Saddam Hussein when he was pulled out of a hole by US troops near his hometown Tikrit: unkempt and looking lost. People will less forget US President George W. Bush's brave words later: 'In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.

Over the year, continually rising casualties of US forces stationed in Iraq seem to be a huge question mark at the door the White House, casting doubt about Bush's commitments to the Iraqis and Americans. To date, the US troops' death toll in anti-US battles has been twice that before Saddam Hussein's capture while on the other hand bomber attacks, suicidal bombings and gunfights claimed several thousand Iraqi civilians' lives.

Now detained by US military in secrecy in Iraq, 67-year-old Hussein is ill-informed of the volatile situation outside. But he seems to have been accustomed to his monotonous and serene life in a cell no larger than 16 square meters.

As Iraqi human rights minister Bakhtiar Amin introduced, Saddam Hussein is now passing days raising flowers, reading 'Kuran' and writing poems. He is allowed, twice a day, to have a break outside his cell. There was report that he has received treatment for swelling prostate, hernia and eye diseases. The International Red Cross is in charge of passing him family letters periodically. Though a prisoner, Saddam Hussein is still suspected of participating in the ongoing anti-US insurgents. As Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffik Rubai put it, they have evidence showing that Saddam Hussein made preparations for the insurgents and organize his partisans after Iraq's liberation.

Maybe it is Saddam Hussein's greatest wish that he can meet his 20 counsels.

Saddam Hussein has not been able to meet the public ever since he was tried by Iraqi interim government at a hearing early in July this year. A counsel delegation composed of 20 lawyers from Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan, the United States, Britain and France etc. has always criticized the US authority and Iraqi interim government for preventing them form going to see Saddam Hussein, which means deliberately concealing the truth.

Earlier this month, the delegation received approval from the Iraqi interim government for a visit on the eighth, but it was cancelled due to pressure from the US government.

It might be a trial of the century, which we must guarantee that nothing goes wrong, said Rubai. According to him, Saddam Hussein can not be tried easily and sentenced for life, or, as some wish, sentenced death penalty 100 times.

There is an important reason for no progress made in trying Saddam Hussein: the lack of qualified prosecutors, counsels for the defense and judges. Lawyers of Iraqi nationality are mostly not willing defend for him for one reason or other. And the prosecutors and judges have even less daring to accuse and try Saddam Hussein for fear of angering the former president and more of being threatened by anti-US insurgents.

According to a spokeswoman with Human Rights Watch, there were several judges willing to try Saddam but backed off later, which, as she put it, is the most practical question now.

By People's Daily Online

» Find more of the online edition.