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RE: [casi] Prime Minister and mass graves

Dear list members,
Below are some extracts form an analysis and its URL link.
Trying Saddam
If a trial is to have a cathartic effect in Iraq, it should be held there - it is patronising to 
argue that the Iraqi authorities cannot dispense justice.Christopher Greenwood.Wednesday December 
17, 2003.The Guardian "
"It is paradoxical that some of those who have been loudest in calling for the early return of 
sovereignty to the people of Iraq are unwilling to see this element of sovereignty returned at all."
"But if these problems can be overcome, a trial in Iraq offers both justice and the chance for Iraq 
to break with its past.",3604,1108532,00.html
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf 
Of Peter Brooke
Sent: 18 December 2003 09:19
To: casi
Subject: [casi] Prime Minister and mass graves

Dear all

The latest mailing from Radio Free Europe, dealing with the siezure of
President Hussein, quotes our Prime Minsiter as saying:

'Let's remember all those Iraqis that died under Saddam.  The remains of
four hundred thousand human beings already found in mass graves.'

It gives as a reference the Prime Minsiter's website
( and it can be found there under the heading
'PM: Shadow of Saddam lifted of Iraq'

Kathleen Ridolfo, who compiles the collections, goes on to say in her own
voice, under the heading DEBATE ON HUSSEIN TRIAL BEGINS:

'In all, it is conceivable that some 300,000 Iraqis were killed under
Ba'athist rule in Iraq, mostly under Hussein's rule.'

The Prime Minister says that 400,000 have already been found in mass graves.
Ridolfo says that 300,000 is a high estimation of the total number killed,
not all of them directly under President Hussein.

Marc Azar posted what appears to be a helpful article on the present status
of mass graves ('Scientists to Excavate Iraqi Graves' by NIKO PRICE, The
Associated Press, Saturday, December 6, posted on 8 December).

It describes the work of a team working out of one of Mr Bremer's palaces.
It may be noted in passing that when the Iraq Survey Group was set up,
searching evidence of President Hussein's crimes was one of its major jobs
with if I remember rightly about 1,000 people assigned to it. But all we've
heard of since has been David Kay's fruitless search for chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons.

The article gives the usual figure of '270 suspected grave sites' but then
says that 'After seven months of work, the team has confirmed 41 mass graves
across the length and breadth of Iraq' (this presumably includes the Kurdish
areas were the graves left over from the Anfal campaign and the Halabja
bombing could have been investigated at any time over the past ten years if
Messrs Barzani and Talabani had attached any importance to the matter).

By 'confirmed' we learn is meant that someone has reported that they saw a
mass grave being created and satellite imagery has discovered that traces of
gypsum had appeared at the same place at the same time the observer
reported. Gypsum is taken as evidence that the soil had been disturbed.

Does this mean that gypsum wasn't spotted at any of the rest of the 270

Of these 41 sites only 4 are going to be explored immediately, in January.
These are suitable for exploration because the work can be done secretly -
they are out of sight of the population. The reason given for this is 'to
prevent relatives from disturbing them first.' I would have had a lot more
sympathy if security had been given as a reason since obviously such a team
would be very vulnerable.

The view that it is to prevent the relatives knowing about it is odd when
'Adnan Jabbar al-Saadi, a lawyer with Iraq's new Human
Rights Ministry' is quoted as saying "It's as easy to find mass graves in
Iraq as it once was to find oil" and this was confirmed in a mail from
Ghazwan. Also by definition the US group is looking at graves they have been
told about by Iraqis so knowledge of them is already out.

Somewhere in the news mailings, incidentally, but I can't find it, is a note
to the effect that according to the UN definition the presence of three
bodies is enough to constitute a 'mass grave'.

All this is really just to indicate the looseness and irresponsibility of Mr
Blair's reference to 'four hundred thousand human beings already found in
mass graves'


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