Saddam : phony show trial


Richard Moore

Two points to keep in mind: (1) most of Saddam's crimes
were committed while he was being supported by Washington;
(2) the crimes of which he is accused are all minor
compared to what the U.S. and Brits are now doing in Iraq
on a daily basis.



Saddam trial hears first witness 
A former Iraqi intelligence officer has given the first
witness testimony in Saddam Hussein's trial, which has
resumed after a six-week break.

Wadah Ismael al-Sheik investigated the 1982 assassination
attempt which triggered the alleged massacre in Dujail
upon which the trial is based.

The trial has been adjourned for a week, until 5 December.

A defiant Saddam Hussein and seven co-accused were in
court. All eight deny charges of murder and torture.

The prosecution says 148 people, mostly men, were killed
in the largely Shia town, some 60km (35 miles) north of
Baghdad, after a failed assassination attempt against the
former leader.

In his video testimony, taped before his recent death from
cancer, Mr Sheikh said about 400 people were detained
after the ambush, which was estimated to have been carried
out by between seven and 12 assailants.

A day after the attack, whole families were rounded up and
taken to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, he said.

A year later they were moved to another detention centre
in the south of the country, Mr Sheikh added.

Defiant defendant

Mr Sheikh noted that Saddam Hussein had decorated
intelligence officers who had taken part in the operation.

He also spoke of Saddam's former Vice-President Taha
Yassin Ramadan, saying that he had ordered the destruction
of orchards in Dujail, where the gunmen who attacked the
convoy had hidden.

The testimony came after Saddam Hussein made another
defiant appearance in the specially built courtroom in
Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

The eight defendants, who could face execution if
convicted, entered the courtroom one at a time and took
their seats.

Saddam Hussein was the last to be called. There was a long
wait before he finally emerged, dressed in a dark suit and
white shirt.

Heated exchange

On the orders of Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin none of
them were wearing shackles or handcuffs.

During his previous court appearance Saddam Hussein
initially refused to recognise the authority of the judge
before eventually entering his not guilty plea.

The trial is a farce and can only serve to give him a
platform from which to claim martyrdom William Allen,
Belfast, N Ireland

He was similarly argumentative on Monday, complaining
about the fact that he had to climb four floors to the
courtroom because the lift was broken.

He also objected to being escorted up the stairs by
"foreign guards".

In a series of heated exchanges with the judge he also
complained about the fact that his guards had taken his
pen away, rendering him unable to sign the necessary court

"I will alert them to the problem," Judge Amin said in

Saddam Hussein fired back: "I don't want you to alert
them! I want you to order them. They are in our country.
You are an Iraqi, you are sovereign and they are
foreigners, invaders, and occupiers."

Safety fears

At least four defence lawyers failed to turn up, although
Saddam Hussein's lawyer did attend.

It is not clear why the missing lawyers did not appear nor
which defendants they represent.

Defence lawyers had threatened to completely boycott
Monday's proceedings, following the assassination of two
of their colleagues and death threats against others.

But they later withdrew their threat after undisclosed
promises were made regarding their security arrangements.

Just before the trial began at least one mortar was fired
into the Green Zone where the trial is taking place, the
BBC's John Leyne in Baghdad says.

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, an outspoken
critic of the trial, was seated alongside the defence

Mr Clark, 77, who flew in from the Jordanian capital Amman
on Sunday, said he wanted to protect Saddam Hussein's

"A fair trial in this case is absolutely imperative for
historical truth," he told Reuters news agency.

The left-wing activist, who held office in the 1960s under
President Lyndon Johnson, has previously described the
special tribunal as a creation of the US military

Story from BBC NEWS: 

Published: 2005/11/28 12:32:50 GMT 



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