- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

The United States is looking at other legal venues in case no international tribunal can be established to prosecute Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.
"Our primary objective is to see Saddam Hussein and the leadership of the Iraqi regime indicted and prosecuted by an international tribunal," said David Scheffer, the State Department's ambassador at large for war crimes issues.
If that proves too difficult to accomplish politically, he said, "there still may be opportunities in the national courts of certain jurisdictions to investigate and indict the leadership of the Iraqi regime."
Addressing a gathering of the Middle East Institute and the Iraqi Foundation at the National Press Club, Mr. Scheffer said the United States is gathering evidence in eight areas, any one of which would be enough to warrant prosecution.
He said at least 12 members of Saddam's inner circle are complicitous in such crimes, including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who was in New York this month for the Millennium Summit and the formal opening of the U.N. General Assembly.
"It is beyond any possible doubt that Saddam Hussein and the top leadership around him have brutally and systematically committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for years, are committing them now, and will continue committing them until the international community finally says enough," said Mr. Scheffer.
The ambassador said Mr. Aziz was not arrested in New York because he had diplomatic immunity while attending the U.N. event. But he said the United States was pursuing an indictment in other forums.
"If there were a world court, it would be a much easier process," said Mr. Scheffer, who represents the United States in negotiations for an international criminal court. The United States opposes the treaty, saying it does not do enough to protect American soldiers serving overseas.
But he appealed for the United Nations to establish an ad hoc international tribunal, similar to the one pursuing Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic, to prosecute Saddam.
Mr. Scheffer listed the eight areas in which the United States is researching and documenting Iraqi war crimes and crimes against humanity:
The Iran-Iraq War, during which 5,000 Iranians were killed by chemical weapons from 1983 through 1988.
The chemical bombing of Halabja in northeastern Iraq, which killed 5,000 people in March 1988.
The Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1987-88, resulting in the deaths of between 5,000 and 10,000 Kurds.
The 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait.
The suppression of a 1991 uprising against Saddam that caused the deaths of between 30,000 and 60,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians.
The draining of marshes to deprive southern Shi'ites of their livelihood after the Gulf war.
The ethnic cleansing of Persians from Iraq to Iran and a campaign against non-Arabs in the northern city of Kirkuk.
The continuing murder of political opponents and the use of rape as a method of intimidation.
Mr. Scheffer said the United States has collected millions of documents, some of which have been scanned onto 176 CD-ROMs, which will be made available on the Internet.
He said his staff is sifting through "crate upon crate" of classified U.S. intelligence on Iraq, as well as working with Kuwaiti prosecutors and other groups interested in prosecuting Saddam for war crimes.

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