Trial by Liar
Some people will go to great lengths to delay the sword of justice from falling.
Often, criminals flee the country rather than face arrest. Others go to jail, but take their lives before going to court. And those who actually make it before juries frequently hire hotshot defense attorneys and walk free.
A select few—the cream of the criminal crop—end up in shackles with no clear way out. And within this upper tier are the Top Guns, the best of the best at perpetrating the worst of the worst. Take, for example, the elite club of incarcerated former dictators.
If you are a deposed tyrant, it’s hard to run away—after all, the whole world is watching. So you do everything you can inside the courtroom itself to scuttle the legal process.
Witness two recent examples.
First, the genocidal maniac we all love to hate, Saddam Hussein. Most of his antics have seemed like efforts to win a 2006 Best Actor nomination; the former Iraqi president has employed hunger strikes, tirades against the judges, and boycotts of the proceedings to foil justice. All, so far, to no avail.
Fewer folks, however, are aware of the latest tomfoolery from kooky Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Documents released last week revealed that our friend Slobby petitioned the U.N. war crimes judges to call Bill Clinton to testify at his trial in The Hague.
Unsolicited legal tip of the day: Your case must really be on thin ice when you try to subpoena a man who has admitted lying under oath.
It turns out Serbie the Love Thug has gone down this road before. He also asked the court to compel retired general Wesley Clark, who oversaw NATO operations in the Balkans in 1999, to participate in the trial. Not only that, but last year the tribunal rejected Milosevic’s pleas to have Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder appear as witnesses.
Strike three, Slobs. You’re out.
This kind of defense strategy has me thinking back to the classic defenses of the past, from Reagan assailant John Hinckley’s “I wanted to impress Jodie Foster” insanity plea to O.J. Simpson’s “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” tactic. But it also has me wondering about what some other international badguys will conjure up for their defenses when their judgment day comes:
North Korea’s Kim Jong “Licensed To” Il: “It’s all a case of mistaken identity … I’m just a cute little Monchichi!”
Al Qaeda’s Usama Bin Ladin: “I’m dirty, alone, and living in cave. How could you think I would misbehave?”
Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “You in the West can’t even pronounce my name—how can I possibly be to blame?”