Published in The Post-Standard, Jan 9, 2005.

I have been attending the trial of Dr. Rafil Dhafir for two days a week since it started in October.* Before attending this trial I was under the mistaken impression that the newspaper’s job was to inform the public so that people would have a basis for judgment as to the innocence or guilt of a person. My experience of the paper’s reporting on this trial shows me that my belief couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The Prosecution could not do a better job of presenting their side of the case to the public if they were writing the newspaper articles themselves. I’m appalled at how significant evidence for the Defense is often ignored by the paper. Or, if mentioned at all, it is buried under big damning headlines. What happens in the courtroom and what is reported in the newspaper often have only a passing resemblance to each other.

If you who read this care about civil liberties and another citizen’s right to due process, please come to the trial and hear the evidence for yourself. Over half a million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a direct result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. Dr. Dhafir’s actions may in fact have helped save many lives. Doesn’t Dr. Dhafir deserve the right to be held innocent until proven guilty? Shouldn’t we as citizens in a democracy help ensure this right, even if the newspaper denies it?

[* I started attending the trial two days a week but very quickly realized I needed to be there full time; this was too complicated to explain in a short letter.]