Yes, after almost three weeks of testimony in a Manhattan federal courtroom, the Oil-for-Food trial of 83-year-old Texas oilman Oscar Wyatt came to an end Monday morning when Wyatt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In a press release, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said that Wyatt “traded the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people for the satisfaction of his own greed and the greed of the former government of Iraq.”
Wyatt is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 27, and faces 18-24 months in prison. In an odd way, it seems he was ensnared in the end by the same Oil-for-Food program which, according to testimony at the trial, he helped get rolling — paying the consulting fees and expenses of an Iraqi-born American, Samir Vincent, who took the stand as a cooperating government witness. Vincent recounted some of his adventures shuttling between the U.S. and Baghdad during the UN sanctions era, rounding out more of the picture he described last year when testifying at the Oil-for-Food trial of South Korean businessman Tongsun Park (convicted, and now serving a five-year sentence). I’ve been down at the courthouse for most of the trial, and will have more to say soon. For the moment, in the lineup of UN-related convictions, guilty pleas and pending cases, here’s a rundown including the David Chalmers plea, just prior to the Wyatt plea, and here’s a wrapup following the Bahel conviction this past spring.
On a more uplifting note, from a very different quarter, here’s a link to a “Solidarity Message” from members of the brutalized opposition in Zimbabwe, supporting the courageous dissidents of Burma. Maybe we ought to found a sort of anti-United Nations at which these people would have a voice; an assembly not of the rulers, but of the ruled.