Friday, November 16, 2007

 

More Progress In Iraq

Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has approved the trial of two high-ranking Shi'ites, both Moqtada al-Sadr appointees, for running sectarian militias in the Health Ministry:
An Iraqi judge ruled last month that there was sufficient evidence to try the two former officials, who held senior positions in the Health Ministry. But there had been concern that the ministry might try to block the case by invoking a section of the Iraqi criminal law that proscribes the prosecution of officials who are executing their official duties.

The approval to hold a trial was provided in a memo issued earlier this week by the acting health minister. Mr. Maliki has formally endorsed the decision, American officials said.

The case has emerged as a major test of the ability of Iraq’s judicial system to take on difficult cases, particularly those in which the accused are prominent Shiites.

“This case is as important, if not more important, than the Saddam Hussein case,” Michael Walther, a Justice Department official who leads a task force that is advising the Iraqi judicial system, said in a telephone interview. He added that a successful trial would demonstrate that the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government “is ready to prosecute its own.”
The militias abducted and murdered hundreds of hospitalized Sunnis. Visiting relatives were also targeted.

Via Captain Ed, who observes:
In some ways, this may represent the most significant step towards reconciliation since Maliki met with Sunni tribal leaders in Tikrit last August. The most important bedrock principle in a stable democracy is the equal application of the rule of law. Until now, Sunnis in Iraq have complained, with substantial justification, that the central government represented Shi'ite justice, not Iraqi justice. In approving this trial, Maliki shows that Sunnis can receive justice through the democratically-elected government, and that Shi'ites can be held accountable for their atrocities against the sectarian minority.

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