Shiite Officials Freed After Murder Charges Dropped

Two former senior Shiite government officials who were charged with kidnapping and killing scores of Sunnis have been unexpectedly ordered released after prosecutors dropped the case against them. American and iraq government offiicals who spent a year assembling evidence were shocked at the development. A US legal adviser noted: “this shows that the judiciail system in Iraq is horribly broken. And it sends a terrible signal: If you are a Shia, then no worries you can do whatever you want and nothing is going to happen to you.”

The trial of Hakim al-Zamili and General hamid Alwan Abbas al-Shamari, who led the security force, were supporters of the Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. They used ambulances to transfer weapons to Shiite militia and kidnap and torture Sunni patients. The prosecutor suddenly ended the case claiming there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

There is evidence many witnesses were promised their names would be kept secret, but somehow names were leaked and their families threatened. Many did not even show up for the trial. There were rumors one of the judes had promised to render a not guilty verdict.

Mirmbe Nantongo, speaking from the US Embassy in Baghdad, commented in an upbeat tone: “The very fact the charges were heard and investigated show modest progress toward the rule of law.” If that is what the Bush administration considers the triumph of the rule of law we can well understand why it welcomed the fraudulent election in Florida in 2000.