THE TRIAL OF SADDAM HUSSEIN provides the first comprehensive look at the trial of Iraq’s former dictator and tells the behind-the-scenes story of the drama that unfolded.
The Iraqi High Tribunal was created to investigate and try Saddam Hussein and members of his regime for their alleged crimes. The first trial—for crimes against humanity in the village of Dujail in 1982—took place from October 2005 to November 2006. In August 2006, while the judges were deliberating the verdict in the Dujail case, the Anfal trial began: Saddam was charged with genocide against the Kurds. He was found guilty of the Dujail charges and executed on December 31, 2006. The Anfal trial continued without him.
Many trial participants and observers hoped that the Iraqi High Tribunal would establish a judicial system that would help launch Iraq into a new democratic era. But Iraq's new political leaders respected neither the court's independence nor the rule of law and removed trial judges. American attorneys sent to advise the Iraqi court failed to protect it from these outside pressures.
“To see Saddam in a trial, it was something I couldn’t even imagine.
Is that real? Or is [it] a dream?”
- Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi,
Yet despite its problems, the trial was a big step for Iraq’s judicial system. It was an open process, televised for all Iraqis and the world to see. Evidence was presented, witnesses testified and the defense was given an opportunity to mount its case.
Many were disappointed that the Iraqi High Tribunal failed to establish an independent judiciary and to begin the process of reconciliation in Iraq.
Since one of President George W. Bush's goals in Iraq was to launch a democracy, a key objective was to establish courts that were independent of political influence and manipulation. Instead, the Iraqi High Tribunal was compromised by politics.
By exposing the crimes of the regime, which were committed against all segments of Iraqi society, the trial would help start the process of moving beyond the anger and hatred bred by Saddam. Instead, the trial seemed to intensify sectarian conflict.
THE TRIAL OF SADDAM HUSSEIN reveals the stark realities undermining the new Iraq: sectarian rivalries, vengeance, violence, the failure of Iraq's new political class and the poor planning of the United States, among many others. This tragic tale is composed of trial footage, secretly recorded cell-phone videos, and interviews with trial participants—many of whom speak publicly for the first time.
International distribution by APT World Wide, a division of American Public Television