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11/27/03 - JUSTICE IN IRAQ - 2003-11-28

A future of hope for the people of Iraq must include the assurance that justice will be done. In the words of Coalition Civil Administrator Paul Bremer, “In a country such as Iraq, where there has been much injustice, the quest for justice takes on a special importance and urgency.” Today in Iraq, justice is being done.

Iraqi judges, operating independently from the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council, render justice based on the law and the facts. Take the case of the Navstar, a merchant ship. Coalition naval forces captured the Navstar with three-thousand-five hundred tons of fuel aboard. The crew had planned to sell the fuel in another country, a violation of Iraqi law. The Navstar’s captain and first mate were turned over to Iraq’s Central Criminal Court, where they were found guilty. The two men are now serving seven-to-ten year prison terms. The Navstar and its fuel are now the property of the Iraqi people.

When Abu Munim was governor of Najaf, he put Iraqis in jail for no legal reason. He was financially corrupt and destroyed official documents to conceal his other crimes. Abu Munim has been convicted of corruption and is serving fourteen years in prison.

Since liberation, over three-hundred cases have been tried in Iraq, and the pace of judicial operations is accelerating. In the quest for justice, as with electricity, education, and many other things, says Vice President Dick Cheney, there is real progress in Iraq:

"The torture chambers are empty, the prisons for children are closed, the murderers of innocents have been exposed, and their mass graves have been uncovered. The regime is gone, never to return. And despite difficulties we knew would occur, the Iraqi people prefer liberty and hope to tyranny and fear." “Every civilized nation,” said Vice President Cheney, “has a vital stake in Iraq’s successful transition to what the terrorists hate and fear most: a free society that respects human dignity and upholds human rights.”