Saddam dismisses evidence amid trial acrimony
BAGHDAD – Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein dismissed evidence linking him to the mass killing of Shiite villagers as he launched a new tirade of abuse against his tumultuous trial.
Meanwhile, chief judge Rauf Abdel Rahman expelled one of the defense lawyers after she made a string of acrimonious outbursts in just the latest illustration of tension between the defense and the judge. The only defendant in the court, Saddam was dressed in a crisp black suit and appeared composed as Abdel Rahman reopened his trial on crimes against humanity at the high-security Baghdad courthouse after a three week recess.
Saddam, now also facing the threat of genocide charges in a separate case, was cross-examined for the first time over the alleged execution of more than 140 inhabitants of the Shiite village of Dujail following an attempt on his life in 1982.
If proved guilty, he and seven other defendants face the death penalty.
The Iraqi High Tribunal on Tuesday said it would charge Saddam and six others for genocide for their role in the killing of Kurds in the late 1980s during the Anfal campaign which left more than 100,000 dead.
During Wednesday’s session which ended after nearly six hours of verbal exchanges, Saddam dismissed the testimony of witnesses and also brushed aside evidence presented by the prosecution against him in the Dujail case. “The witnesses who testified were brought here after being bribed and briefed of what was to be said,” said Saddam.
During his cross-examination, Saddam defended the decision to put on trial the Dujail suspects prior to their alleged executions.
“This was my decision as the president. I had the right to question the judgement, but I was convinced of evidence against them.”
Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Mussawi presented documents linking Saddam to the Dujail massacre, including identity cards of some alleged suspects in the assassination bid who were juveniles when sentenced by the revolutionary court. “These documents are forged. I have never done anything to a youngster,” Saddam told the judge.
“All these documents are forged and can be purchased on the streets of Baghdad. I can purchase a card like that saying the judge Rauf is 25-years-old,” he said, pointing towards the Kurdish judge.