Saddam Hussein's Trial: A Letter to The New York Times

To the Editor:

Gary J. Bass argues ("Try and Try Again," Op-Ed, Sept. 26) that a trial of Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi war crimes tribunal for murdering 143 villagers in 1982 "is a good start but not a good finish."

It's not even a good start. It trivializes the enormity of his crimes and ignores the progress in international criminal law made since the Nuremberg trials. Saddam Hussein, and possibly some of his leading accomplices, should face charges of aggression against Kuwait, crimes against humanity against the Shiites and Kurds and major war crimes. Only a few illustrative cases need be specified. The trial should be absolutely fair with strict time limits set for both prosecution and defense.

Although humanitarian law has moved away from death sentences, Iraqi judges should decide what is appropriate to bring justice, peace and reconciliation to their war-ravaged country.

Benjamin B. Ferencz
New Rochelle, N.Y., Sept. 27, 2005