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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-08 07:03 AM
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Troops could face Iraqi-led court
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Troops could face Iraqi-led court
By Robert H. Reid - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Oct 17, 2008 15:49:18 EDT

BAGHDAD All rise as three judges, cloaked in black robes with a white fringe, take their seats behind a wooden bench facing prosecutors, defense lawyers and the accused, standing unshackled in a metal cage.

Its a scene that some American soldiers and contractors may someday face under a draft new security agreement, which gives Iraqis first crack at prosecuting them for premeditated and gross felonies committed off base and off duty.

Americans charged with such offenses would face proceedings where theres no jury, rules of evidence are a work in progress and the judges often render verdicts and impose sentences in the same session.

Critics complain the system is overwhelmed by thousands of cases, inexperienced judges and corruption much of it petty payoffs to clerks to make sure the defendants get a speedy court date.

During a recent hearing in a sprawling, tan-colored court complex that opened last year, a harried woman stenographer scribbled notes by hand as the chief judge summarized a witness testimony. Her notes and not a word-for-word transcript form the record of the trial.

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