Saddam's defiance in the dock



ALISON ROWAT, Foreign Editor July 02 2004

HE went into custody like a lamb after he was pulled from a hole in the ground last December, but yesterday Saddam Hussein roared back to life in a Baghdad courtroom to ridicule the war crime charges laid against him.
Ordering court officials to record his identity as "Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq," the former dictator called George W Bush "the real criminal", the Kuwaitis "dogs", and denounced the legal proceedings as "theatre".
Only a handful of reporters were allowed into the courtroom in Camp Victory, the former presidential palace converted to a US base, to witness the first public appearance of the 67-year-old since his capture by American troops seven months ago.
The rest of the world, from his victims in Iraq to his vanquishers in Washington and London, made do with videotape pictures released after the hearing, which lasted almost 30 minutes.
Appearing tired and thin, his once black beard peppered with grey, Saddam was led to the courtroom in handcuffs and chains. A clatter of metal dropping to the floor could be heard outside as guards prepared him for his re-entry on to the global media stage.
Initially looking unsure of himself, he regained his composure once settled into the dock to hear the seven preliminary charges. These included invading Kuwait in 1990, suppressing Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings in 1991, gassing Kurdish villagers in Halabja in 1988, and killing political activists and religious figures over a 30-year period.
As he scribbled notes on a piece of scrap paper, his mood shifted from disdain to anger when the charge of illegally invading Kuwait was read out. "I'm surprised you're charging me with that as an Iraqi when everyone knows that Kuwait is part of Iraq," he told the Iraqi judge, who is not being identified for security reasons.
Referring to himself in the third person, he said: "You are putting Saddam on trial when the Kuwaitis said they could buy Iraqi women for 10 dinars on the street. The Iraqi soldiers went to defend the honour of Iraq, so what right do these dogs have? This is all a theatre. The real criminal is Bush."
Throughout Iraq, reaction mixed amazement at the spectacle of a dictator on trial, with relief he had been brought to justice. There was anger, too, with several Iraqis demanding he face the death penalty.
Hamid al Bayati, deputy foreign minister, said the regime that committed the most terrible crimes in the world was now on trial. "I think the Iraqi people will be satisfied with the death penalty and no less than that."
Saddam, who was not represented by a lawyer, was led from the court after refusing to


HE went into custody like a lamb after he was pulled from a hole in the ground last December, but yesterday Saddam Hussein roared back to life in a Baghdad courtroom to ridicule the war crime charges laid against him.
Ordering court officials to record his identity as "Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq," the former dictator called George W Bush "the real criminal", the Kuwaitis "dogs", and denounced the legal proceedings as "theatre".
Only a handful of reporters were allowed into the courtroom in Camp Victory, the former presidential palace converted to a US base, to witness the first public appearance of the 67-year-old since his capture by American troops seven months ago.
The rest of the world, from his victims in Iraq to his vanquishers in Washington and London, made do with videotape pictures released after the hearing, which lasted almost 30 minutes.
Appearing tired and thin, his once black beard peppered with grey, Saddam was led to the courtroom in handcuffs and chains. A clatter of metal dropping to the floor could be heard outside as guards prepared him for his re-entry on to the global media stage.
Initially looking unsure of himself, he regained his composure once settled into the dock to hear the seven preliminary charges. These included invading Kuwait in 1990, suppressing Kurdish and Shi'ite uprisings in 1991, gassing Kurdish villagers in Halabja in 1988, and killing political activists and religious figures over a 30-year period.
As he scribbled notes on a piece of scrap paper, his mood shifted from disdain to anger when the charge of illegally invading Kuwait was read out. "I'm surprised you're charging me with that as an Iraqi when everyone knows that Kuwait is part of Iraq," he told the Iraqi judge, who is not being identified for security reasons.
Referring to himself in the third person, he said: "You are putting Saddam on trial when the Kuwaitis said they could buy Iraqi women for 10 dinars on the street. The Iraqi soldiers went to defend the honour of Iraq, so what right do these dogs have? This is all a theatre. The real criminal is Bush."
Throughout Iraq, reaction mixed amazement at the spectacle of a dictator on trial, with relief he had been brought to justice. There was anger, too, with several Iraqis demanding he face the death penalty.
Hamid al Bayati, deputy foreign minister, said the regime that committed the most terrible crimes in the world was now on trial. "I think the Iraqi people will be satisfied with the death penalty and no less than that."
Saddam, who was not represented by a lawyer, was led from the court after refusing to sign a statement acknowledging he had been charged and read his rights.
It was then the turn of 11 of his ex-aides, including Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, Saddam's half-brothers, and Hassan Ali al Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for his alleged role in gassing Kurds and Iranians.
Downing Street said the government opposed the death penalty being imposed, but added: "In the end, it is their judicial process. A sovereign country is a sovereign country."
At the White House, which is keen to portray the proceedings as the preserve of the Iraqi people, there was a muted response but a spokesman derided Saddam's jibe that Mr Bush was "the real criminal". As the 12 were returned to US guards, it was revealed Polish troops last month found two warheads in Iraq which tested positive for the deadly nerve agent, cyclosarin. The Polish defence ministry said "the problem is what period they come from, whether the Gulf war or earlier".
There was a more positive note for the interim government when Jordan said it was willing to send troops, the first Arab state to do so, if asked by the new Baghdad administration. King Abdullah told BBC Newsnight: "Tell us what you want, tell us how we can help."
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/19321.html

 

The Trial Of Saddam Hussein
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