19 October 2005

Saddam's Trial - Day 1

Thought I'd just jot some comments on this as it progresses.

Showing just how momentous an event this is, BBC News' website has a FULL WIDTH headline! Must be serious...

Several of Saddam's cronies are in there with him. The Judge first asked Saddam to identify himself, at which point he started prevaricating with great aplomb. Maybe he watched the Clinton impeachment trial and was impressed. The judge then asked the other guys their names and, surprise surprise, they all gave waffly answers as well. I would have thought it would have been better to let the others go first, rather than give Saddam the chance to dictate their approach to questioning.

At this point, the judge gives up in the face of such high-powered, Clinton-esque flanneling, to which the interpreters whispered, but very audible, response is "circus, absolute circus".

Almost as much fun as the defendants response to questioning is the interpreters coverage of the trial. The audio and interpretation is patchy, and you can hear every breath, sigh, fart, slurp, keystroke and whispered comment them make. It reminds me of Terry Wogan's coverage of The Eurovision Song Contest; not as funny, but just as irreverent.

Ooh, Someone's phone just rang, playing the Nokia Tune. I half expected Dom Joly from Trigger Happy TV to stand up with his massive 'phone: "HELLO! WHAT! NO, I'm IN SADDAM'S TRIAL! NO, IT'S BORING".

The guy who must be The Prosecutor (dressed in legal garp) is reading out the charges, to which the Defence Lawyers (dressed in shabby suits) are shouting randomly. Apparently, there is some disagreement about the point of the trial and which crimes are the focus of the trial. It doesn't sound particularly like a courtroom; more like a pub after a football match in which one team was playing rugby.

The clothes are interesting. The Judge and Prosecutor are all done up in the usual stuff, trying to add some credence to the proceedings. No wigs though, which is a pity. The Defence Lawyers look like they've slept in their suits, hoping to gain some sympathy by appearing to be court-appointed through LegalAid. Saddam looks very snappy, although he apparently has a personal dresser (not his words - more like "They made me wear this suit").

Someone in the interpreters booth is typing either on or with what sounds like a pestle and mortar, and getting a decent words-per-minute out of it too. This is all happening while someone, probably someone else, is rhythmically putting a mic too close to a speaker, so we get some really nice feedback. If it wouldn't have led to critics decrying American involvement in the trial, it would have been nice to get the producers of Judge Judy in to get some decent coverage. Maybe get Judge Judy herself to run the show. She would've got Saddam to 'fess up his name at the very least.

Today's broadcast has come to a close. There's been a lot of shouting, some confusion as to who people really are and why they are there, and what they are there for, and the children do not know where lieth the thing belonging to their father that has a raffiawork base, and an attachment. It's all very Monty Python, except without the production values or Terry Gilliam's animations. Now that would be something. Instead of boring court artist renderings of the scene, get Terry to animate it. Ahh, the curse of the Ideas Man. No talent to carry them through!!

Oh, yeah, and he pleaded Not Guilty. Evidently, a bigger boy did it and ran away...or one of his doppelgangers.

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