WU alum was part of prosecution team against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

Brian Allen

Tom Luedke played defense on the Washburn football team in 1983 but in 2005 he was on the prosecution team against Saddam Hussein. He spoke about the experience at the Wake Up with Washburn Breakfast lecture April 16th at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni center.

His presentation, “The Iraqi High Tribunal and the Trial of Saddam Hussein,” focused on the prosecution of Saddam for the killing of 148 men and boys, who were rounded up, tortured and executed after some unexplained gunshots were fired when Saddam’s motorcade passed through the village of Dujail.

Luedke showed photos of the courtroom and the major players, including Hussein and his associates, as well as some documents used as evidence. Perhaps the most poignant was an ID photo of a 14-year-old boy who was executed.

As heinous as the 148 Dujail executions were, they were only a minor part of Hussein’s crimes against humanity, and the prosecution of that case was intended to be a warm-up for his greater crimes. But once he was convicted, it was enough to sentence Saddam to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out Dec. 29, 2005.

“Saddam never expressed remorse for anything he did,” said Luedke. “His defense strategy was one of delay, figuring he could outlast the American will and return to power after our withdrawal.”

The trial was long and drawn out, partially because the first judge could not find it in himself to restrain Saddam, but more so because, like the famous Nuremberg trials of the Nazis, it was designed to be transparent and give the defense a chance to say all they had to say.

Lueke gave his personal opinion on the future of democracy in Iraq after the American withdrawal.

“It will depend on how much their culture will allow them to proceed forward.” He conceded that unifying a country fractured by religious and tribal loyalties “may benefit from a benevolent dictatorship. History will tell.”