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Saddam Hussein Faces Iraqi Justice; Saddam Hussein's Body Language Reveals Secrets; Arab Reaction to Saddam Arraignment Mixed

Aired July 1, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The defendant.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER IRAQI PRESIDENT (through translator): I am Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq,

ZAHN: He was belligerent.

HUSSEIN (through translator): How could you defend these dogs?

ZAHN: He was defiant.

HUSSEIN (through translator): I speak for myself.

ZAHN: Tonight, Saddam Hussein gets a dose of Iraqi justice.


ZAHN: Good evening. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

As we said, today Saddam Hussein returned to one of his presidential palaces. No longer a dictator, he sat as a defendant facing an Iraqi judge in a simple suit and shirt. The palace, once a symbol of Saddam's strength of his power, was where the judge read the charges against the former president. And, as he did so, the whole world watched.


HUSSEIN (through translator): Saddam Hussein, the president of the Republic of Iraq.

ZAHN (voice-over): Saddam Hussein, seen for the first time since his medical tests after he was taken out of his hole in Tikrit almost seven months ago. Today, his beard is trimmed, but he appears weak and tired. He was defiant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Profession, former president of the Republic of Iraq.

HUSSEIN (through translator): No, present, current. It's the will of the people.

ZAHN: And he questioned the judge's authority. HUSSEIN (through translator): So you are reiterating that every Iraqi should respect the Iraqi law. So the law that was instituted before represents the will have the people, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, God willing.

HUSSEIN (through translator): So you should not work under the jurisdiction of the coalition forces.

ZAHN: The judge read the seven preliminary charges, including political killings, religious killings, and the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

HUSSEIN (through translator): To charge Saddam Hussein because Kuwait has said that I defended the honor of the Iraqis. Those animals.

ZAHN: The judge asked Saddam to sign the court minutes. Saddam refused.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Please allow me and not to sign anything until the lawyers are present.

ZAHN: Saddam's lawyers, meanwhile, are not happy that they weren't allowed to represent him today.

TIM HUGHES, ATTORNEY FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN: The client has been denied the basic right to legal advice through his detention.


ZAHN: So what was it like in the courtroom today during the hearing?

Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour was one of the few journalists who was actually in the courtroom. She joins us now from Baghdad.

Christiane, first of all, if you will, describe to us the reaction of onlookers when he entered the courtroom for the first time.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, you can imagine everybody in that courtroom -- there was really just a handful -- were really on the edge of their seats riveted, wanting to see just what would Saddam Hussein look like.

And I was particularly interested in the reaction of the few Iraqis that were there, because the court wasn't full. There were just the Iraqi court reporters, the two guards and then there was a member of the new interim government, the executive director of the special tribunal, some government representatives.

But the interesting ones were the assistants who were there. There were a couple of assistants who were really afraid before he walked in. They still thought that this man this many months later could somehow do something to them. So they were quite scared before he came in. And when he did come in, you could see they saw, like I did, that this was, in fact, a shadow of his former presidential self.

He looked much thinner. He had lost weight, we were told by the Americans who were guarding him. He was sort of ambling in. He was helped by the guards. He looked quite disoriented I thought at the beginning and quite broken at the beginning. It really wasn't until he started discussing with the judge that he gained some animation and he started gesticulating and having a back-and-forth.

At the beginning, he looked very lost. And you could tell that the people were just stunned. The Iraqis in that courtroom were stunned by this reversal of fortune.

ZAHN: And there were a lot of people stunned by what he had to say in the courtroom, in particular an exchange about the accusation that he had gassed the Kurds, where he more or less said, I heard about it on television. Do you believe he was delusional today or crazy like a fox?

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm not sure which one of those to choose.

Saddam Hussein, as you know, has spent a long, long time thinking that what he does is right and correct. He, today, insisted many times that he was still the president of Iraq and any kind of court proceeding should take that into account. He also didn't seem to know whether he was actually still in what he called occupation custody.

He seemed to think that he was still covered by the Geneva Conventions, where he's actually gone into the Iraqi legal system now. In terms of the Halabja response, that was when they gassed the Kurds up in Kurdistan there. He basically said, yes, I heard about that, too, in the media. They say under the rule of Saddam Hussein that poison gas was used there.

You know, could it be delusional or could it be a smart way to not take responsibility for that? I don't know.

ZAHN: What kind of reaction was there in the courtroom when there was very specific talk about the invasion of Kuwait and he referred to the Kuwaitis as dogs?

AMANPOUR: The Kuwait invasion was the last of those preliminary charges that were read out against him. And he really -- that's when he got the most animated. You know, ever since 1990, when the whole Kuwait issue arose, when he invaded Kuwait, he has simply never been able to get to grips with the fact that he invaded another country.

He has always called it part of Iraq. He has always said that he did it to defend the Iraqi people against the Kuwaitis who wanted to conspire to drop the prices of oil and, as he said in the court, to turn Iraqi women into 10-dinar prostitutes. He said at one point that these animals and dogs -- basically, you know, we still don't have a full transcript of this and it quite concerns me that we don't.

But the preliminary translation suggested that he referred to them as dogs. Several people in the courtroom said that. Whatever he said, it was an insult because the judge, himself, turned around and said, you cannot use that kind of language. I remind you that you are in a court of law and that language is not permitted in this court.

ZAHN: Christiane, you just mentioned the judge. And there was tremendous scrutiny of him, a 40-year-old man, a lot of back-and-forth exchanges between him and Saddam Hussein.

Tell us what you can about him and his background.

AMANPOUR: Well, first of all, this is a very young judge, as you say, about 40 years old. I don't know his history. And they didn't want us to reveal too much about him, not even his name. And we weren't allowed to reveal his face.

You could see the shots of him were sort of three-quarters from the back. He has had one, we were told, other experience. And that is over the last few months, when he issued papers that allowed the clamp-down on Muqtada al-Sadr and some of his followers.

But in terms of this court, I was actually quite taken by the way he was preparing for his big moment meeting Saddam Hussein face-to- face in this capacity, because he was sitting in the court for a good 15 or 20 minutes before Saddam came in. And he was very contemplative, very reflective, didn't seem nervous or agitated, just sitting there thinking and waiting.

You could see he was very concentrated. Saddam came in. The judge didn't get up. And the process started. And even though, in the way it's been shown publicly, the only head shot we got was Saddam Hussein. Therefore, you see him to the full advantage of his gesticulations and his face gestures of his words.

You don't see the way the judge reacted. And he was very calm. He would pull Saddam back into line. He would allow him to ask questions and debate. But he never -- in my opinion, he never allowed this to get out of control. A couple of times, he reprimanded him. And I thought he held his own very well.

ZAHN: Christiane, finally tonight, I know you had an interesting observation to make about how it seemed that Saddam Hussein tried to play to an audience and in fact even looking at members of the media to elicit some kind of reaction. Obviously, you had to be very focused on the proceedings. And then, what, you felt like he gave up and turned his attention back to the judge?

AMANPOUR: Well, the way it was described to me -- and, of course, I realized it afterwards -- you know, in the past, whenever we've seen Saddam sort of sitting in those big arm chairs, he kind of leans back, leans a little bit to the side and then looks around for sort of instant approval, if you like, which of course he always got when he was president from his people who were sitting next to him.

And, in this case, a couple of times, he looked. He assumed that gesture of sort of leaning back and looking off to the side, as if, you know, we were all going to be applauding and laughing at what he said. I mean, you know, it was quite wry. He smiled. He made a couple of comments, but that was it and then he turned back to the judge and kept speaking.

ZAHN: It's all very fascinating. And you were one of the few reporters, as we mentioned, that were there to capture all of this.

Christiane Amanpour, thank you for this late update.

Coming up next, putting Saddam on trial. Is Iraq's new justice system ready to prosecute the former dictator for crimes in his own nation and abroad?



HUSSEIN (through translator): Let me understand something, who is the defendant? Any defendant, when he comes to a court, before that, there should be investigation. This is not a court, this is investigation. This is investigation now.


ZAHN: Saddam Hussein wasn't formally charged today, but he did hear a list of preliminary charges against him. They cover a range of the most infamous acts of his dictatorship, the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 which led to the Gulf War, and the mass murder of Shiites during their rebellion in 1991. The graves of the victims were finally uncovered last year.

The other charges including murdering religious leaders, opposition leaders, the mass murder of members of the Barzani tribe, and the massacre of Kurds from 1986 to 1988. While Iraq's new judicial system is still evolving, it does recognize that a defendant is innocent before proven guilty. And though it will be a while before we learn of Saddam's punishment, it is expected that Iraq will reinstate the death penalty.

Joining us now, two people who have been in Iraq helping to prepare for Saddam's trial. In Washington, Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, and in Philadelphia tonight, former federal Judge Stephen Orlofsky of the Iraqi Judicial Assessment Team.

Welcome, gentlemen. Glad to have you both with us.


ZAHN: Judge Orlofsky, tell us a little bit about the tenuousness of this judicial system. It's operating under an interim constitution. There are few very people who believe that this government is actually strong enough to support this trial. What do you think? ORLOFSKY: Well, this trial is being conducted pursuant to what is called the Iraqi Special Tribunal Statute, which was adopted in December of last year and is designed to try crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is not part of the traditional Iraqi judicial system. But questions have been raised about the ability of the Iraqis to prosecute and try crimes of this nature, particularly a complex case involving the charges against Saddam Hussein.

ZAHN: Now, Mark, you don't believe the system is or that you have the infrastructure in place to make this trial work. Why? What's the biggest problem.

MARK ELLIS, INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION: I have some real concerns about it. And I'm not saying that this tribunal will not be successful in the end.

But what has just been stated, first and foremost, these are the most complicated, most challenging cases to undertake in international law. They take a great deal of experience. And that is something that Iraq does not have in this area. Second, even under the best of circumstances, these cases would be quite complicated, quite challenging.

But we're talking about a situation in Iraq where you still have chaos. And so it's not only a concern about the lack of knowledge of the substantive law. But it's also a real concern about some of the logistical issues, such as being able to provide protection to witnesses and victims and the court personnel. So these are very real problems, real issues and I'm hoping that this tribunal embraces a very active role by the international legal community in bringing in experts to help this tribunal. I think that's what they need to do.

ZAHN: Judge Orlofsky, do you believe the system really does perceive Saddam Hussein innocent until proven guilty?

ORLOFSKY: Well, the language contained in the statute, in many respects, mirrors the American Constitution and the constitutions of all of our states. It provides essentially the same rights that are provided in the Bill of Rights. And it does provide, even to someone such as Saddam Hussein, the presumption of innocence.

The statute also provides and invites the Iraqi judges and prosecutors to elicit the assistance of the international community in collecting the evidence and mounting the case against Saddam. The Iraqis have a long and fairly scholarly legal tradition, which goes back several thousand years to the Code of Hammurabi. And I think they do have the ability to prosecute Saddam and try him fairly before a fair tribunal.

But they are definitely going to need assistance from the international community in terms of mounting the evidence, of collecting the forensic evidence, doing the types of forensic analyses that will need to be done with respect to, for example, mass graves. And I think, with that kind of assistance, they certainly can do it.

And I might add that virtually all of the Iraqis I spoke with when I was in Iraq last year felt very strongly that if Saddam were captured, that he should be tried before an Iraqi court with Iraqi judges and Iraqi prosecutors, because it was their view that the crimes he had committed had essentially been committed against the Iraqi people.

ZAHN: But, Mark, if the system isn't propped up the way the judge just suggested, where would be the repercussions? Where would it lead?

ELLIS: Well, I think this is crucial for Iraq.

Nobody is sympathetic towards Saddam Hussein. But this has to be a fair -- it has to be an independent trial. It has to be beyond reproach on all aspects of international standards when conducting this type of trial. And the reason that's important is because this is the first opportunity for Iraq to rejoin the international community by understanding and by stating a commitment to the rule of law.

And that's why this trial will be so important. The world will be watching it. And this is why I think it's important for this tribunal to really engage the international legal community in assisting them in making certain that this is, in fact, a legitimate trial.

ZAHN: Judge, finally tonight, what did you learn from Saddam Hussein's responses today that may give us a clue as to how he plans to defend himself?

ORLOFSKY: Well, I've only seen brief excerpts of his appearance in court today on TV.

But I think, as anticipated, he's going to be a difficult defendant. He is going to be belligerent. He is obviously intelligent. I'm not satisfied -- some people have suggested he's delusional. I think he's delusional like a fox. I think that he would like to turn this trial into a show trial and to try those -- to try to put on trial those who are accusing him.

And that is fairly common in war crimes trials. Milosevic did it. It happened at the Nuremberg trials, where the defendants questioned the authority of the tribunal to bring them to trial. So I think that you can expect that kind of defense from Saddam Hussein and his attorneys.

ZAHN: Judge Orlofsky, Mark Ellis, you both had some very interesting insights tonight. Thank you for sharing them with us.

ORLOFSKY: Thank you for having me.

ELLIS: Thank you.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

We've heard about the charges. Next, how do you defend a former dictator? We'll examine the legal strategy. And a little bit later on, how images of Saddam in court are playing in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world.


ZAHN: Saddam Hussein had no lawyers by his side in court today. He complained about that and refused to sign any paperwork without them. It may seem impossible to defend a dictator who used chemical weapons on his own people and who invaded a country with no provocation, but a team of attorneys is already working on his defense.

Joining us now to look at that and what Saddam's defense strategy might be, here in New York, Jonathan Tepperman, senior editor of "Foreign Affairs," and from Washington, Mark Vlasic, a former member of the prosecution team in the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Welcome to both of you.

Jonathan, I know you were not surprised by his temperament. You expected him to be belligerent. But some of his responses were downright bizarre, weren't they ?

JONATHAN TEPPERMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "FOREIGN AFFAIRS": Well, they are bizarre if you think about him as a defendant in a trial. But Saddam wasn't speaking to the court today, so much as to the Iraqi people and to his supporters.

And he wants to show that he's still the strong man in charge. So I think, if you think about it in that context, his belligerence, his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the court makes sense.

ZAHN: So do you think he handled himself well today, Mark?


I think that I wasn't expecting much more than this. I think from seeing Milosevic on trial, Saddam has taken the same path in terms of speaking to his audience in the greater Iraqi area, those people who still are loyal to him and still looking for him to be the big man.

ZAHN: So what kinds of excuses, Mark, will he use for these very broad charges leveled against him?

VLASIC: I think the first thing he'll try to do is say that either the events didn't happen or he was not a aware of them or he did not order them.

Those are paths that I think that looking at other war crimes trials, that's what the accused have said. The problem here I think in this case is the fact that the crimes are so vast that to try to say these things did not happen or he was not aware of them, I think, is a pretty unbelievable. So I think the issue will be trying to find the connections between the political leadership and the actual crimes that were committed on the ground. ZAHN: Jonathan, how difficult will that be to find those connections? Our last guests were saying that they're very concerned that the system is so weak right now that just in terms of evidence gathering, you could have some real problems here.

TEPPERMAN: That's absolutely right.

And you pointed to a couple of problems. The first is that Saddam was a pretty savvy guy and was good at what prosecutors call power-laundering. So he was smart enough rarely, if ever, to document or to tell someone explicitly go and gas the Kurds, go and kill the Shia.

ZAHN: But you're going to find witnesses down the line somewhere, aren't you?

TEPPERMAN: Well, hopefully. And the idea is that you can find subordinates to turn on him and to say that he did give orders.


ZAHN: If you can protect them.

TEPPERMAN: If you can protect them, which raises the whole other issue of security.

But even when -- if you can get the subordinates to cooperate, if Saddam never said anything explicitly, but communicated with winks and nudges and suggested that maybe he would be happy if someone took care of this problem for him, it will be difficult. Of course, if he was more specific and if you can get people to testify to that, then your job is much easier.

But they have to be willing to testify, as you suggested.

ZAHN: Based, Mark, on his crazy-like-a-fox performance today, do you think he's going to turn this whole process into one big charade?

VLASIC: I think he'll try to do his best. I think he's probably familiar with the Milosevic tactics and he'll probably try to use this as a grandstand to make his actions seem more justifiable.

The question here is, will the judges permit this? I think that having seen the Milosevic case go forward, the judges on his particular panel will be quick to silence him if he starts talking out of line.

ZAHN: That doesn't mean, Jonathan, they're necessarily going to have control over his witness list. Look at Milosevic. He is calling for, what, some 1,600 witnesses. The trial could go on for two more years. It's already been going on for 2 1/2 years.


TEPPERMAN: That's right. And the Iraqis will want it to proceed much more quicker than that, because the problem with delayed justice, as we're seeing in Yugoslavia, is both that the sense of retribution gets deferred. And Milosevic is rising in the polls in Serbia as his trial goes on and on and on.

And both the Americans and the Iraqis want to make sure that that doesn't happen here. But, as you said earlier, without security, they're never going to be able to get witnesses to testify in it.

ZAHN: And, Mark, we've heard even Iraqis express their great fear that there is going to be violence directed at the courtroom where this trial will go on and Saddam Hussein could even die in the process of being tried. Do you think that is a real possibility?

VLASIC: I think anything is a possibility in Iraq. I think that the government in Iraq will do its very best to ensure that it's a very safe location and that things won't happen.

But I think that people have to be aware this is a factor.

ZAHN: And if you had to make a prediction tonight, Jonathan, on where this all goes, what would it be?

TEPPERMAN: I think there's no question how it will end. Saddam will be found guilty and Saddam will face the death penalty. The question is how long it takes and what we have to go through to get there.

ZAHN: And will he be killed?

TEPPERMAN: I suspect not, no.

ZAHN: Because that still, is it not, being debated with the government, whether they're going to reinstate the death penalty or not?

TEPPERMAN: Yes. Right.

ZAHN: Jonathan Tepperman, Mark Vlasic, thank you for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.


ZAHN: Coming up next, a psychological profiler's report on Saddam's performance in court today and lessons from history, what war crimes trials of the past can tell us about Saddam's case.



HUSSEIN (through translator): And the occupation of Kuwait, the charge No. 7, unfortunately. It's unfortunate that this is coming out of an Iraqi. The law is there, law to charge Saddam Hussein, because Kuwaitis said that the Iraqi women will come to the street for 10 dinars, and I defended the honor of the Iraqis. Those animals!

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAULA ZAHN, HOST: The sight of Saddam Hussein sitting in front of an Iraqi judge and the sound of his combative words were undeniably compelling, but his expressions and gestures and body language may reveal a lot about his state of mind.

Our producer, Brian Todd, sat down with a psychological profiler for a closer look at how Saddam handled himself in court today.


BRIAN TODD, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Reporters described him as nervous at first, taking awhile to hit his stride. But once the defiance kicked in, it was vintage Saddam Hussein.

We brought in Dr. Jerrold Post, founder of the CIA psychological profiling division, who later did his own profile of Saddam, to give us his take on the man's performance.

(on camera) I want to ask you first about his appearance overall. I think that struck a lot of viewers, just seeing the way he looked in the courtroom. What is your take on his appearance?

DR. JERROLD POST, SADDAM PROFILER: I'm really struck. This is Saddam in command. He looks intense, focused, he's concentrating and he's even almost -- he gives an appearance here of almost lecturing to the judge.

What a remarkable contrast, this decisive man in charge is with that amazing image we saw emerging from the spider hole.

Look at this compliant little man in a sense, obediently opening his mouth for the dental exam and then submitting, indeed bending his head for -- while they search for lice. This was a Saddam that had never been seen before.

Yet, I really want to emphasize this is the core Saddam psychologically. Underneath that fierce facade, this is the man he has spent a lifetime defending against.

TODD: I also wanted to ask you about the beard and the symbolism here. At one point in detention, the beard came off. He has made a decision to grow it back and in a certain way.

What is your take on the symbolism of the beard and what he's trying to put forth?

HOST: I'm struck by it. Here he is, thoughtfully stroking his beard, concentrated focus, rather dapper in many ways. And I see a person who is quite conscious of his appearance.

TODD (voice-over): At one point, before a judge many years his junior, Saddam senses something, bears down, gathers his bravado and seems to take over the proceedings.

HOST: I can imagine him thinking, "Young man, do you realize whom you're talking to? I am the president of Iraq." And treating him with total contempt and, indeed, that is what continues to play out, him taking charge of the courtroom.

TODD: Taking charge, asking the judge to introduce himself. Questioning the judge's credentials and stating his own.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Saddam Hussein, the president of the republic of Iraq.

HOST: Now, this is a theme he stresses throughout. Not past tense. "I am the president of the Republic of Iraq."

And, after all, he got a 99 percent plus election tally. So for him, this whole procedure is illegitimate.

TODD: A belief born out at a critical moment. The judge begins to read charges, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Saddam explodes.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Those animals!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Don't attack. This is a legal session.

HUSSEIN (through translator): I am -- I know what I'm talking about. Anything that's outside the norms of a legal session.

TODD: Very striking when he talks about the animals of Kuwait. He still sees that war as justified, a very political paranoid in full flower.


ZAHN: Fascinating. Brian Todd with some revealing insights about Saddam in court. He called today's hearing fear.

But what do Iraqis and Arabs think after seeing Saddam in court? And it may take four years to try former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. What that case and others can tell us about what's in store for Saddam.


ZAHN: The former dictator' arraignment got mixed reaction today in Iraq and in the Arab world. It's all over the media there, but the coverage has been a bit different than it has been here in the U.S.

Here's Octavia Nasr.


OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Al Jazeera found him confident and quite challenging.


NASR: The reporter who was allowed inside the courtrooms, stressing how young the Iraqi judge is, and how Saddam gave him a challenge and a lecture. The reporter also noting that Saddam was shackled upon his arrival to the courthouse, but that no cameras were allowed to film him.

She also pointed out the fact that Saddam wouldn't sign any documents in the absence of his lawyers. And concluded with Saddam's remarks, calling this court proceedings a theater, and that the real criminal is U.S. President Bush.

Al Jazeera's staunchest competitor, Al-Arabiya, was not allowed in the courtroom and focused its coverage on street and studio reactions. Opinions ranged from hang him to deport him to give him a fair trial.

Calling its coverage "The Trial of a Regime," perspectives varied: some called Saddam the worst dictator, others called him a kind man.

Back on Al Jazeera, this Middle East expert from Cairo expressed admiration for Saddam acting like a hero, even though he's in jail, and harsh words for other Arab leaders for not standing up to the West, saying some of them are worse than Saddam Hussein.

And in the city where Saddam was born, a live report showing people carrying Saddam's framed picture and chanting in support of him. In the words of this anchor, an unprecedented and extraordinary day, which dominated the news in the Arab world.

Octavia Nasr, CNN, Atlanta.


ZAHN: And joining us now from Washington to discuss the various reactions in the Arab world, Mahmoud Fandy, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a syndicated columnist in the Arab world.

Welcome back, sir.

I know you believe that Arabs outside of Iraq reacted quite differently than Iraqis did today. How so?

MAHMOUD FANDY, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, you know, what in Octavia's report, what you have seen, the man from Cairo who is actually in most Cairo papers, known as the man who used to get money from the Oil for Food program to promote Saddam Hussein.

This a very typical group. These are the people who were bought by Saddam Hussein. Very similar in Egypt, Jordan and other places.

There are some of these believe Saddam Hussein has died in battle, that he is not Saddam Hussein, that this is the not the real Saddam Hussein in front of them.

And there are those, also, who believe that Saddam Hussein, as Octavia pointed out, Al Jazeera portrays him as defiant and confident. And it's -- "Al Hayat" newspaper coming out tomorrow basically also emphasizing the theme of defiant and confident. But that's the world of Al Jazeera and Arab media. There is a whole new reality of the Arab world that does not make it to the screen. There are many Arabs who think this is a first. This is the first ex-Arab leader who would stand in trial. We don't have ex-Arab leaders in the Arab world.

ZAHN: Right. Do -- Do those people want Saddam Hussein to have a fair trial, or are they more like the one man Octavia interviewed, who basically said hang him and hang him now?

FANDY: Well, there was -- there are a range of opinions, Paula. There are people who want to stress, especially Iraqis, want to stress the difference between the new Iraq and the old Iraq.

And many Iraqis pointed out, and even in their newspapers tomorrow, saying that he should have a fair trial. He should have all the legal representation he wants, because the new Iraq is different from the old Iraq.

There are, of course, those who were directly affected by the 300 people who were put in mass graves in Iraq. And these are the people who want him dead, and there are people who want him to die in a slow death. People, for example, in Halabja in Kurdistan, they're just sick of seeing the sight of Saddam Hussein.

ZAHN: So as you see these varied opinions play out in public, I'm just curious what impact you think this has on other governments in the Arab world as they watch this progress.

FANDY: Well, I think there -- there are tremendous ramifications for this whole political show, if you will, that many Arab leaders will draw lessons, that Arab leaders can and -- be accountable to their own people. They can be put on trial under circumstances.

ZAHN: So it puts the fear of God in them, basically?

FANDY: Absolutely. Absolutely. Many people are frightened and frightened also of the idea of a democratic Iraq. It's something that might spread and catch on in the Arab world. And this is -- in this authoritarian terrain, it is very challenging to the existing political order.

ZAHN: Very interesting conversation. Mahmoud Fandy, thank you for your time tonight.

FANDY: Thank you.

ZAHN: Coming up next, Saddam is not the first. Another notorious leader has been on trial for more than two years with no end in sight. Just how hard will it be to try Saddam Hussein?



HUSSEIN (through translator): Yes, this is the law that was in '73. So then Saddam Hussein was representing the leadership and signed that law. So now you're using that law that Saddam signed against Saddam. Saddam was the people.


ZAHN: Trying a former leader in his own country can be especially difficult, as you essentially have to use the law against the person who used to be the law.

And while the international community has set out to prosecute some former world leaders, it hasn't always been successful.


ZAHN (voice-over): The trial of Saddam Hussein, held in Iraq and under Iraqi law, will be unprecedented. But history tells us the case may very well be full of legal and political pitfalls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Milosevic, if you follow the rules, you will be able to speak.

ZAHN: The U.N. war crimes tribunal of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague has been going on for 2 1/2 years, some experts believe it's only half over.

After testimony from 298 witnesses and millions of dollars spent to prosecute, Mr. Milosevic is just now beginning his defense. He is threatening to call 1,600 witnesses.

Bringing former dictators to trial, let alone winning a conviction, is far from easy.

CHARLES TAYLOR, FORMER PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA: There will be no more Taylor after a few minutes.

ZAHN: Liberia's Charles Taylor was indicted for war crimes last year, but has never been arrested. He is living in exile in Nigeria.

Chile's Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 and charged with human rights abuses, but has twice been found unfit to stand trial.

And Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier fled to France with millions of dollars after he was overthrown in 1986.

Many believe Adolf Hitler took his own life to avoid capture, but the post-war Nuremberg trials of his subordinates were precedent setting.

BENJAMIN FERENCZ, NUREMBERG PROSECUTOR: At Nuremberg, we promised the world that never again would such crimes go unpunished. I, as representative of the United States government, directed a prosecution against mass murderers, when the main principle was that these crimes would always be brought before a court of law, and that the law we laid down for the rest of the world would be the law which would bind us. ZAHN: Since Nuremberg, the international community has played a prominent role in most trials of this kind. Legal experts such as international law professor Diane Orenlecher, say the countries that decide to try former leaders within their own legal system face an extra burden.

DIANE ORENLECHER, LAW PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: By their nature, trials of former leaders pack a political punch, and the perception that there's a sense of victor's justice is always looming behind these kinds of prosecutions. And of course, that perception is fatal to their ultimate legitimacy.


ZAHN: Well, our next guest knows what it is to stand before a former dictator in court. In 1998, Paul Von Fyl testified against South Africa's former Apartheid-era president, Pieter W. Botha.

With Botha in court, Mr. Von Fyl revealed that the former president had approved the murders of government opponents. He also testified that there was a pattern of police torture during Botha's reign.

Paul Von Fyl joins us now.



ZAHN: What was it like to have to testify against somebody who so brutally ruled for 11 years?

VON FYL: Well, in one way it was remarkably satisfying because it represented the return of law to South Africa. It represented a moment in our history where we could take stock and say no one is above the law.

ZAHN: Were you afraid that any of his former supporters had a mark on you?


ZAHN: For testifying against him? You never worried about your personal safety?

VON FYL: No. I didn't think that that was -- we had -- he had refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and we had prosecuted him for failing to respond to a subpoena.

And we led -- I, as the first state witness spent a day and a half in court, leading the evidence against him.

And I think one of the great challenges in a case like that and a case that will be like the one, the Saddam Hussein trial, is that you have to -- it's very difficult to find people responsible when they don't have blood on their hands, when they're not the trigger puller themselves, where they have command responsibility. To build the case from the low level crimes that occurred in the country up to the intellectual authors.

ZAHN: Are you confident that that can be, in some way, built?

VON FYL: Well, I think it depends on a lot of things. There are over five million pages of documentation regarding the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party in Iraq. Now just imagine what it takes to sift through all of those pages and build the case.

To date, and I haven't been privy to all of those documents, but to date, none of those documents have revealed a smoking gun, revealed that Saddam himself authorized specific crimes.

Those may emerge during the court process, but I suspect what will have to be done is a meticulous building on a case -- building of a case based on a theory of command responsibility.

What he must have known, or did order, based on an analysis of A, documentation and, B, an analysis of what his subordinates, his generals ordered to occur.

ZAHN: Do you believe those people are still in fear of turning on him, given the volatility of this interim government?

VON FYL: Well, there's going to have to be a very skillful prosecutor in this case. I believe that Saddam will not be the first person whose trial is embarked upon and concluded. And they're clearly trying to, as they say, flip people, trying to put pressure on his subordinates and cut deals with them.

ZAHN: What are the incentives for them to comply?

VON FYL: Well, they may escape the death penalty, they may get more lenient treatments. And I think they would have a strong reason to try and avoid culpability in that reason.

But the problem is that they're inherently unreliable witnesses. They are bargaining for their lives in some senses, and these are rather odious individuals, not the kind of people you would readily trust who wouldn't make star witnesses. So that's a problem.

ZAHN: Your story is fascinating. And thank you for providing a better perspective on what we're watching unfold in Baghdad.

VON FYL: Great pleasure.

ZAHN: Thanks.

We're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And we are back. Saddam Hussein's appearance in court today may have been more about seeing him than putting him on trial. No formal charges were filed against him.

The cameras were there to show him in front of an Iraqi judge, the first time the world has seen Saddam in eight months. And it was quite a change from the image of the man pulled out of a spider hole back in December.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He looked so bad the last time we saw him that it whetted the appetite to see him again.

DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": We're waiting for those pictures to come in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once we get it, we'll bring it to you.


MOOS: No more Rip Van Winkle, this time Saddam Hussein had a lot less beard to stroke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked like he had been fresh out of a spa treatment or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not bad looking. The guy is not a bad looking guy. He didn't look scruffy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not my type but I just think he looked healthier than I expected him to look.

MOOS: Anyone hoping to see Saddam Hussein locked up as securely as Hannibal Lecter.


MOOS: Instead saw an unshackled man in a suit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he looked way too good. And he was very arrogant. The way he lectured the judge, and I worry that -- I just hope that he gets the punishment that he deserves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That look of the pointing of the finger.

MOOS: Pointing not just one, but two fingers. Reporters who were there described a series of mood shifts.

JOHN BURNS, "NEW YORK TIMES" POOL REPORTERS: This is not tremendously coherent, a lot of this. His mood, not only his mood, but his -- his mind is jumping.

MOOS: A bit disoriented at first, then increasingly dismissive and confident, even smug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He sounded like he found his voice again. What did you expect me to say? Say, "I'm sorry" or anything like that? No. I expected bravado, and he showed enough of it.

MOOS: Insisting that he was still the current, not the former president of Iraq, though someone forgot to tell the fly to show proper deference.

Except for the blackened fingernail...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you clean him up and the guy is on the cover of "TIME" magazine. You know what I'm saying? The sexiest man of the year for "People," maybe?

MOOS: Sexiest, no, but for those hoping that the fallen dictator would appear crust fallen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The look in the eyes, like, he's the same guy.

MOOS: For PAULA ZAHN NOW, this is Jeanne Moos.


ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here this evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

Tomorrow, the battle over cameras in the Kobe Bryant courtroom. How much coverage is too much?

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Good of you to drop by tonight. Again, thanks for joining us. Have a good night.


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