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    Invasion of Iraq: Bush is 'the real criminal'
    Posted on Friday, July 02 @ 11:18:21 UTC
    Topic: Saddam and Iraq
    Saddam and IraqDefiant Saddam Hussein appears at hearing


    BAGHDAD, Iraq: A defiant Saddam Hussein rejected accusations of war crimes and genocide in court Thursday, telling a judge in his first public appearance since his capture that the real "criminal" was US President George W Bush. Saddam was handcuffed when brought to the court but the shackles were removed for the 30-minute arraignment at Camp Victory, one of his former palaces on the outskirts of Baghdad. "I am Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq," Saddam said unprompted, sitting down in a chair facing the judge on the other side of a wooden railing. When asked his name, he repeated it in full: "Saddam Hussein al-Majid, president of Iraq." The appearance, broadcast on Arab satellite television stations, gave Iraqis their first look at the former dictator since his capture by the US military seven months ago. They saw a Saddam whose mood ranged from nervousness and exasperation to contempt and defiance - even flashes of anger. At times, he seemed to lecture the young judge.

    Unaccompanied by a lawyer, Saddam refused to sign a list of charges against him unless he had legal counsel, and he questioned the court's jurisdiction. "Please allow me not to sign until the lawyers are present. ... Anyhow, when you take a procedure to bring me here again, present me with all these papers with the presence of lawyers. Why would you behave in a manner that we might call hasty later on?" he said. Saddam also accused the White House of orchestrating the hearing. "You know that this is all a theatre by Bush, the criminal, to help him with his campaign," he said. The 67-year-old Saddam appeared most agitated when the subject came to the invasion of Kuwait - one of the broad charges against him. "The armed forces went to Kuwait," Saddam said. "Is it possible to raise accusations against an official figure and this figure be treated apart from the one conducting investigations?

    "How could Saddam be tried over Kuwait that said it will reduce Iraqi women to 10-dinar prostitutes?" Saddam asked, referring to himself in the third person. "He defended Iraq's honour and revived its historical rights over those dogs." At this point, the judge admonished him and said he would not tolerate such language in the courtroom. The seven broad charges against Saddam are the killing of religious figures in 1974; gassing of Kurds in Halabja in 1988; killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983; killing members of political parties in the last 30 years; the 1986-88 "Anfal" campaign of displacing Kurds; the suppression of the 1991 uprisings by Kurds and Shiites; and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

    Saddam's lawyers bemoan being 'kept in the dark'

    AMMAN, Jordan: Saddam Hussein's court appearance yesterday dominated TV across the Arab world, where such images are unprecedented and where aggressive new media are unrestricted by the government censors who'd kept the news staid, unrevealing and uncritical of leaders. "Arab citizens, by watching these images of Saddam in court, will have more confidence that the post of the president or ruler will not enjoy eternal immunity," said Yemeni writer Faris Ghanim. He said Saddam's trial showed that "Arab leaders are not above the law and they can be tried if they committed crimes against their own people." In an Amman office, though, lawyers who claim to represent Saddam Hussein cried out in protest as they watched television pictures of the Iraqi dictator appearing before a judge, saying they should have been by his side.

    One of Saddam's lawyers, Tim Hughes of Britain's Bevan Ashford consultancy firm, was asked how he could defend a man infamous for atrocities against his own people. Hughes said the team "respects that everybody has the right to be defended. It is a fundamental human right and we respect this fundamental human right." Hughes said he and his colleagues were "kept in the dark" about the proceedings. He said the lawyers were ready to go to Iraq, but "we will be wanting to have full assurances" of their safety. Issam Ghazawi, a lawyer on Saddam's defence team, said he had received a telephone call two days ago from Iraqi Justice Minister Malek Dohan al-Hassan, who allegedly threatened that if the lawyers made it to Baghdad, they "will not only be killed, but cut into pieces." There was no immediate comment from al-Hassan or the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan.

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