Lawyer, 1978, Basra, Iraq.

I had a stable life till I was appointed by the government to defend war criminals

June 21, 2016

I come from Basra the third biggest city in Iraq

I arrived in Luxembourg 27 of November 2015.

I finished my law studies in 2003 and began then to climb the levels of advocacy in the private sector. In Iraq, you first have to start with the lowest level of advocate. The first stage called A only allows you to work on social affairs like divorce for example. Then you access civil law. Finally, level G allows you to work in the field of criminal law. I quickly became very famous in Basra, I never lost a single case in all my career.

I had a stable life till I was appointed by the government to defend war criminals.

After the war, when Saddam fell, the Americans established together with the Iraqi government the highest criminal court for war crimes.

All top officials of Saddam Hussein’s regime were arrested and put into jail. Even if there was no doubt they were responsible for genocide war crimes and they all would get death sentences, they had to have a trial and be defended. The government chose two lawyers, me and another colleague.

At the same time the government promised us that after the case, they will name us to the highest juridical institute of Iraq. This was the chance for us to become judges.

We were named and enforced by the government to be the lawyers in that court, we didn’t have the choice and we couldn’t refuse. We had to defend eight persons who had done war crimes, mostly very high officials in Saddam’s regime.

These people were over 70 years old at that time. In the Iraqi criminal law you can ask the court not to give them the death sentence because they are over 70 years. That’s what we asked, we were following the law ethics and rules.

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We were not supposed to really defend them

The result was a crash between us and the government. In fact, the government just appointed us to “defend” these guys to make it look good in front of the medias, also out of administrative reasons. We were not supposed to really defend them. There was no doubt these people deserved death sentence but we had to hold on to our law ethics. We had to defend them and that’s what we we did. That was the beginning of a lot of trouble for us.

We started our work in march 2007 and finished in june 2008. The court’s death sentences were delayed to 2010.

One of the 8 persons we had to defend was a close cousin to Saddam Hussain, internationally known, his name was Ali Hasan al-Madschid, known as Chemical Ali.

He ordered the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in the late eighties (Halabja chemical attack). As the governor for annexed Kuwait he killed many civilians. After the war he killed many Shiites in Basra and around. Madschid was captured following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He was convicted in June 2007 and was sentenced to death for crimes of genocide against the Kurds committed in the al-Anfal campaign of the 1980s. His appeal of the death sentence was rejected on 4 September 2007, and he was sentenced to death for the fourth time on 17 January 2010 and was hanged eight days later, on 25 January 2010.

After the end of the trial in 2010, the government not only did not keep their promises about the highest juridical court, but they just left us in the street with no protection. My collegue was killed in 2015. By whom? I don’t know. You know, Irak is an open field, very confusing. He knew too much.

After my colleague was killed, I was very frightened and quit my job as a lawyer. Life for me was horrible then, I had to change my house five times. Through my contacts I got a job outside Basra, in another province, at the Ministry of Health in the city of Nasiriyah.

On 6th of july 2015 my home was attacked in the night with Molotov cocktails

My family was in the house. I wasn’t, I had just left it. The front of the house burnt down. My smallest child died in that attack. He was 8 months old. He was killed. My wife and my three other children survived the attack.

My baby was a boy. Hi name was Ahmed.

My wife totally collapsed. She is still under psychological treatment.

I feel a lot of pain. Right now there is no justice in Iraq. Some day, the truth will come, the sun will rise and the murderer will be found .

The aggressors came in a car belonging to the government. That is what my neighbors told me. This mustn’t mean that the government is responsible; there are the militias who use the government cars to pass the checkpoints. Some members of the militias work half time for the government in the morning and for the militia in the afternoon.

There is no doubt I was the goal of that attack. I escaped to another place and sent my wife to her family. Anyhow, the message was very clear. I decided we had to leave the country.

I escaped to Istanbul on the 7th of September

The next day I crossed the sea to Greece. We left from Bodrum, we were 38 persons on a small inflatable boat. There were many kids on that boat, all were crying. It was tragic.

I want to bring my family to Luxembourg as soon as possible. My family is now staying with my wife’s family. My oldest son is called Rami. He is ten years old. My daughter Fatima is 8, Ali my youngest son is 7 years old. I believe I will have a successful life in Luxembourg. My dream is to get my refugee status, learn the language, start my studies at the university to be able to work as a lawyer in Luxembourg.

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Leila – just walking next to her war precious

My wife is also a jurist. Her name is Laila. I love her. It was a real big love story from the day we met. We met by chance in the bus to university. We were both studying law only I was a year ahead of her. Actually we were living vey close to each other but had never met until that day in the bus. I started to help her in her studies. I was 21 years old, she was 18.

One day per week, we did not have class. We would use that time to go to a park. Just walking next to her war precious. We couldn’t hold hands in public. Basra is very traditional. Four years later we married.

She is very quiet and calm person but unbelievable jealous about me. We had many misunderstandings as due to my work as a lawyer, lots of people called me, even in the middle of the night. She was very suspicious (laughs). Sometimes I got female clients at home. She would serve them tea, be very nice but when they left, oh my god, she would ask so many questions.

Our first baby was born in 2005. That is the happiest day in my life after my wedding.

I had a good and successful life after the war. Throughout the years I had 8 cars, from the most awful one that was always broken to a splendid one. At that time I was lucky and happy. Life was complicated but we also had good times.

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