Saddam Hussein has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the ad hoc court currenty trying him for various war crimes.
In today's Washington Post, a letter argues that there is ample precedent for trying heads of state in the trial of King Charles I.
The letter writer, Tony France, approvingly cites the words of Lord President John Bradshaw
[Charles Stuart] "out of a wicked design to erect and uphold in himself an unlimited and tyrannical power to rule according to his will, and to overthrow the rights and liberties of the people.
France concludes his missive with these words:
"Many at the time challenged the legitimacy of the trial of Charles I, but the bottom line is that England is still here today, a cornerstone of free thinking and a bastion of a free people."
Conveniently, though, France forgets what really became of Mr Bradshaw, who so foolishly argued that the king can be held hostage to the law. Upon the restoration of Charles II, the various conspirators were charged with and convicted of Regicide-- meaning that the legal doctrines by which Bradshaw and his associates convicted the King were fraudulent, and therefore, the execution of Charles Stuart was an act of murder.
Bradshaw himself died in 1659-- but his corpse was exhumed and hung in chains at Tyburn. His fellow conspirators were hung, drawn and quartered.
"Challenged the legitimacy" seems a bit of an understatement.