If media reports are to be believed, it is very sad to hear that Iraqi Judge Rezkar Amin who presided over the trial of Saddam Hussein has handed over his resignation under pressure from government and political circles.
It is true that there has been criticism about how Judge Amin has handled the trial and how he dealt with Saddam as if he were guilty of a traffic offense, allowing him to violate conventional court customs, be aggressive and use rude language. However, this doe not mean that a government or a political party can stipulate who the judge will be, according to a list of acceptable criteria, or else demand he should be changed.
The independence of the justice system and the lack of external pressure is one of the most important aspects of democratic life. If interference in the judicial system occurs under any pretext, then the most important democratic principle, namely the independence and integrity of the justice system is violated. Of course Saddam Hussein is a criminal whose hands are dirty with the blood of innocent people. But, his trial is testimony that Iraq is moving along the right path. It also shows that any individual’s right to resort to the courts, whatever his crime, and to defend himself are one of the most important constitutional and legal principles.
Judge Rezkar Amin, regardless of disagreements about his performance during the course of the trial, is the first judge in Iraq, since the 1958 coup, to practice law with integrity. His court is replaced the revolutionary courts that sent innocent civilians to their death for no crime of their own. The Mahdawi trials, which resembled a theatrical play, were more interested in humiliating people and insulting them before sentencing them to death. Saddam’s courts also killed scores of innocent people.
If indeed Judge Rezkar has resigned under pressure from the Iraqi government and political parties, his departure will represent a step backwards for a country trying to leave behind a mentality of death sentences, mass graves and killing, in order to become a society that respects human rights where citizens resort to the justice system as a safe resort for everyone regardless of the social standing.
The trial of Saddam is not the trial of one person but a trial of a corrupted system and mentality and a period of tyranny. Do not ruin it. Let no one believe that they can tailor-find a judge according to their own political designs.