Skip to comments.Saddam Insists He's Still Iraqi President - Excerpts From Saddam-Judge Exchange
Posted on 03/15/2006 10:45:59 AM PST by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein testified Wednesday for the first time at his trial, and the judge closed the court after the ex-dictator's speech calling for Iraqis to end sectarian violence and fight U.S. troops instead.
Even as the judge repeatedly yelled at Saddam to stop making what he called political speeches, the deposed leader read from a prepared text, insisting he was still Iraq's president.
"Let the (Iraqi) people unite and resist the invaders and their backers. Don't fight among yourselves," he said, praising the insurgency. "In my eyes, you are the resistance to the American invasion."
Finally, Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman ordered the session closed to the public, telling journalists to leave the chamber. The delayed video feed also was cut.
"The court has decided to turn this into a secret and closed session," he said.
After nearly two hours, reporters were called back into the court, where Saddam sat alone in the defendants' pen before the judge.
The former Iraqi leader then refused to answer questions from the chief prosecutor, demanding to see a copy of his testimony given to investigators before the trial began. Prosecutors agreed and said they would question Saddam in the next session.
Abdel-Rahman then adjourned the trial until April 5.
Saddam was the last of the case's eight defendants to testify. Though he has spoken frequently since the trial began in October, Wednesday's session was to be the first chance for the judge and prosecutors to directly question him on charges of killing 148 Shiites and imprisoning and torturing others during a 1982 crackdown against the Shiite town of Dujail.
Instead, Saddam dressed in a black suit read from his statement, insisting he was Iraq's elected president and calling the trial a "comedy."
He addressed the "great Iraqi people" a phrase he often used in his speeches as president and urged them to stop the wave of Shiite-Sunni violence that has rocked the country since the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra.
"What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people," Saddam said. "My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts."
Abdel-Rahman interrupted, saying Saddam was not allowed to give political speeches in the court.
"I am the head of state," Saddam replied.
"You used to be a head of state. You are a defendant now," Abdel-Rahman barked at Saddam.
As Saddam continued reading from a prepared text, the judge repeatedly turned off his microphone to prevent his words from being heard and told him to address the charges against him. But Saddam ignored the judge and continued reading from his text.
"You are being tried in a criminal case. Stop your political speech," Abdel-Rahman said angrily.
"Had it not been for politics I wouldn't be here," Saddam replied.
He went on, urging Iraqis not to fight each other.
"What happened in the last days is bad," he said. "You will live in darkness and rivers of blood for no reason."
He continued: "The bloodshed that they (the Americans) have caused to the Iraqi people only made them more intent and strong to evict the foreigners from their land and liberate their country."
At one point, Abdel-Rahman screamed at him, "Respect yourself!"
Saddam shouted back: "You respect yourself!"
"You are being tried in a criminal case for killing innocent people, not because of your conflict with America," Abdel-Rahman said.
Saddam responded, "What about the innocent people who are dying in Baghdad? I am talking to the Iraqi people."
The stormy session was a stark contrast to the past three hearings, when each of Saddam's seven co-defendants was questioned by Abdel-Rahman and the chief prosecutor.
Saddam and the seven former members of his regime face possible execution by hanging if they are convicted in connection with the crackdown in Dujail following a July 8, 1982, shooting attack on Saddam's motorcade in the town.
Last month, Saddam stood up in court and boldly acknowledged that he ordered the 148 Shiites put on trial before his Revolutionary Court, which eventually sentenced them all to death. But Saddam insisted it was his right to do so since they were suspected in the attempt to kill him.
Before Saddam's testimony, his half brother Barzan Ibrahim who headed the feared Mukhabarat intelligence agency at the time of the Dujail attack was questioned for more than three hours by the chief judge and prosecutor.
Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi showed the court a series of Mukhabarat documents on the Dujail case from 1982 and 1983, some of which bore signatures he said were Ibrahim's. One of them was a memo from Ibrahim's office asking Saddam for rewards for six Mukhabarat officers involved in the Dujail crackdown.
"This is not my signature. My signature is easy to forge, and this is forged," Ibrahim said.
He said the same of another document listing Dujail families whose farmlands were razed in retaliation for the shooting. Another document, signed by an assistant to Ibrahim, talked about hundreds of Dujail detainees being held at Mukhabarat headquarters and the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
Ibrahim said that memo as well was forged.
At the end of Wednesday's session, Abdel-Rahman ordered forensic tests on the signatures to determine their veracity.
In previous sessions, Dujail residents testified that Ibrahim participated in torturing them at Mukhabarat headquarters. One woman claimed Ibrahim kicked her in the chest while she was hung upside down and naked by her interrogators.
But Ibrahim insisted the Mukhabarat was not involved in the investigation into the attack on Saddam and denied any personal role in the crackdown.
"I didn't order any detentions. I didn't interrogate anyone," he said, adding that he resigned from the Mukhabarat in August 1983. "There is not a single document showing that I was involved in the investigation."
Ibrahim insisted that the General Security agency carried out the Dujail crackdown. He said his only involvement came on the day of the shooting, when he went to the village and ordered security officials to release Dujail residents who had been arrested.
The defense has argued that Saddam's government acted within its rights to respond after the assassination attempt on the former Iraqi leader.
The prosecutor has sought to show that the crackdown went well beyond the authors of the attack to punish Dujail's civilian population, saying entire families were arrested and tortured and that the 148 people killed were sentenced to death without a proper trial.
Excerpts from the exchanges in court Wednesday between Saddam Hussein and chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, as translated from Arabic by The Associated Press.
Saddam (reading from a written speech): What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people. My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these strange and horrid acts, the bombing of the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-Askari ... which led to the burning of mosques in Baghdad, which are the houses of God, and the burning of other mosques in other cities of Iraq ...
Abdel-Rahman: Listen, what does this speech have to do with our case? We asked you to give your testimony on the subject of Dujail and your role as the head of state of the time.
Saddam: I am the head of state.
Abdel-Rahman: You used to be the head of state. Now you are a defendant in a court. ... You stand before a court, not on a political platform.
Saddam: I stand before the Iraqi people.
Abdel-Rahman: As a judge, I don't deal with you on political issues. I'm asking you legally. You gave testimony before the investigating judges about your role in the Dujail issue. You have to explain that case.
Saddam (resumes reading): The bloodshed that they (the Americans) have caused to the Iraqi people only made them more intent and strong to evict the foreigners from their land and liberate their country. ... Let the people resist the invaders and their supporters rather than kill each other. ... Oh Iraqis, men and women, ... those who blew up the shrine are shameful criminals _
Abdel-Rahman (shouting): You have to address the subject of this case. Give your testimony.
Saddam (reading): Oh Iraqis, in your resistance to the invasion by the Americans and Zionists and their allies, you were great. You were great in my eyes and you remain so.
Abdel-Rahman: Listen, you're accused in a criminal case. Defend yourself. The time for this is over. ... No more political speeches. We are a criminal court, a judicial court, we don't have anything to do with political issues or anything like this. Testify.
Saddam: Political issues are what brought you and me here. (Continues reading. Sound cuts in and out as Abdel-Rahman shuts off his microphone) ... But now, the criminals who came on the excuse of weapons of mass destruction, with their tanks to rule the Iraqi people under the slogan of democracy _
Abdel-Rahman (interrupting): You are before a court. This is your own personal issue between you and the Americans ... You are before an Iraqi court about an Iraqi issue, concerning the killing of innocent people. Answer that charge. Your conflict with the Americans has no bearing on this case.
(Prosecutor tries to address Saddam, sparking a new shouting match that other defense lawyers join. Abdel-Rahman's banging gavel silences them.)
Saddam: This is a court?
Abdel-Rahman (shouting): Yes, a court! ... Respect yourself.
Saddam: You respect yourself.
Abdel-Rahman: I respect myself. I am a judge _
Saddam: Whoever shows respect gets respect.
Abdel-Rahman: What is this style of yours? You are a defendant in a major criminal case, concerning the killing of innocents. You have to respond to this charge.
Saddam: What about those who are dying in Baghdad? Are they not innocents? Are they not Iraqis? ... I am addressing the Iraqi people. (Resumes reading but sound goes out.)
Abdel-Rahman: The court has decided to turn this into a secret and closed session.
Saddam Hussein argues with Chief Judge Raouf Rashid Abdel-Rahman, not pictured, during his trial in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 15, 2006. Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for torture, illegal arrests and the killing of nearly 150 people from Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the town. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg, Pool)
But how many divisions does he have?
Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has denounced his trial as a "comedy" and called on Iraqis to resist the US-led occupation, prompting the judge to order a closed session.(AFP/Pool/Jacob Silberberg)
This comedy will end with a hemp rope. haha
Do they have an insanity defense in Iraq? Sure sounds like ol' Saddam is trying for it.
"Saddam Insists He's Still Iraqi President"
Kind of reminds me of Bill Clinton who can't seem to exit the national stage either.
Once they get on with it and hang this megalomaniac (yes, he is like Bill Clinton in many ways), the die hard Baathists who are participating in the current terrorism (no, I won't call it an "insurgency") will finally realize he's never coming back and incidents will drop off more than they already have.
It should have ended with a grenade down that spider hole.
Kinda reminds me of Al Gore!
I don't think so. I think that like Milosevic, Saddam's end will come not with a bang, but with a barely heard whimper.
I suggest therefore that he should be found 'not guilty' and hanged on general principles.
Would the technical term for this crime be - Saddamy?
I have an idea.....let's hang him now and get this over with.
I hope they have a televised feed of this bastard when he drops through the trap door on the hanging platform.