Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes

Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes
September 25th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes

Saddam Hussein's genocide trial resumes
Media: The Associated Press
Byline: n/a
Date: 25 September 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial threw the
ex-president out of the courtroom Monday in a stormy session boycotted by
the former ruler's defense team.

"I have a request here that I don't want to be in this cage any more" Saddam
said, referring to the court. He waved a yellow paper before he spoke to
chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa.

Al-Khalifa snapped back: "I'm the presiding judge. I decide about your
presence here. Get him out!" _ pointing to guards to take Saddam out.

"You need to show respect to the court and the case, and those who don't
show it, I'm sorry, but I have to apply the law," the judge said.

The exchange began when Sabri al-Douri, director of military intelligence
under Saddam, referred to a fellow co-defendant _ Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai
_ by his former rank of lieutenant general.

The judge then said that the defendants could not be referred to by their
former rank.

An angry Saddam then insisted that he be allowed to leave and the judge
ordered him out of the courtroom.

Saddam and six co-defendants have been on trial since Aug. 21 for their
roles in a crackdown against Kurdish guerrillas in the late 1980s. The
prosecution says about 180,000 people, mostly civilians, died in the
crackdown, codenamed Operation Anfal.

Later, al-Douri and another defendant, Farhan Mutlak Saleh _ former head of
an intelligence branch _ complained to the judge about the court-appointed

"Did I dismiss your attorney?" the judge asked him. "He (the attorney) just
walked out!"

The two defendants were questioning the fairness of the trial with court
appointed attorneys. The judge told Saleh that he will be given time with
his court-appointed attorney to plan the defense.

Saleh said: "Good, that's all I ask."

Another defendant, Saddam's cousin "Chemical" Ali al-Majid, also rejected
his court-appointed lawyer.

"I refuse such an attorney, who cannot defend me," he said, apparently
because the lawyer didn't cross-examine a witness who implicated him the
Operation Anfal.

"We agree that you can contact your original attorney or hire new ones," the
judge said.

"I am here against my will and by force," the defendant said.

He also accused the judge of leading the witness.

"Would you allow to leave the courtroom because I expect the verdict to be
political and prearranged," he asked. But the judge didn't reply and called
in a second witness to the stand.

The stormy hearing was later adjourned until Tuesday after the court heard
three Kurdish give testimony in the case.

The session got off to a rough start when Saddam's defense attorneys
followed through on their threat to boycott the proceedings to protest the
replacement of the chief judge and other alleged irregularities.

Several other lawyers representing other defendants were also absent when
the session began. The judge appointed replacement lawyers so the trial
could continue.

Al-Douri and another defendant, former intelligence official Farhan Mutlak
Saleh, complained to the judge that they did not accept their
court-appointed attorneys.

"Did I dismiss your attorney?" the judge asked "He just walked out!"

The judge told Saleh that he would be given time with his court-appointed
attorney to plan a defense.

Saleh said: "Good, that's all I ask."

In announcing the boycott, Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's chief lawyer,
complained that last week's decision to replace chief judge Abdullah
al-Amiri violated judicial rules.

Al-Dulaimi also protested the court's refusal to hear non-Iraqi lawyers and
its demand that foreign attorneys seek permission to enter the courtroom.

Among Saddam's nine lawyers are a Jordanian, a Spaniard, a Frenchman and two
Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Al-Khalifa opened the session by calling an elderly Kurdish man to take the
witness stand.

Mohammed Rasul Mustafa, 75, sporting the traditional Kurdish headdress, said
he witnessed the bombing of the northern Sawisaynan village, from his own
northern Kurdish village, which was an hour's walk away.

"I saw the smoke cover the village with my own eyes," Mustafa recalled the
late 1980s attack.

He said that as he traveled toward the village, he smelled a strange odor
which was like "apples." The man said he turned around and fled the area
along with village residents and those from other nearby towns.

Mustafa said that when he returned home, he felt short of breath because of
his alleged exposure to the gas.

Eventually Mustafa and his family were captured and held in a prison before
being transferred to the southern Nugrat Salman detention camp.

"For the first three days of our arrival we were without food and water,
then we received salty water and (prison) bread," Mustafa said.

During his five-month imprisonment, Mustafa said he saw guards "kill a man
with a steel cable" and that at up to 500 people died, most of them elderly.
He did not elaborate.

The court appointed defense attorney for al-Tai, a former defense minister,
asked the witness how the other 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners in Nugrat Salman
jail escaped chemical weapons.

But al-Tai abruptly stood up and said: "I don't acknowledge this attorney.
He does not represent me." The judge told al-Tai to sit down and be quiet.

"I complain against Mr. President, who claimed to be the father and the
patron of the people because he killed my wife and five children," Mustafa
said. He asserted that he lost family members during imprisonment.

During cross examination, the court-appointed defense attorneys referred
complaints about illnesses sustained by the witnesses to a medical committee
for investigation.

Another witness, Rifat Mohammed Said, 75, recounted children dying due to
lack of food and people being tortured by a prison warden he identified as
"Hajaj" at the same camp. "Hajaj was beating us everyday, he was torturing
us everyday," he said.

Said claimed that Hajaj had raped female prisoners. "The girls came back
crying and told us they had been raped," Said asserted.

Outside the detention camp, he said, dogs dug into shallow graves and ate
the corpses of prisoners.

Another witness, Fahima Amin Karim, 69, described an alleged gas attack on
her village. "We collapsed because our eyes were tearing, our skin was
burning, and we were also short of breath," she said. Karim told the court
she survived Operation Anfal as well as another chemical attack against the
Kurds by Saddam's regime on Halabja in 1986.

During Anfal, Karim said she and other family members were admitted to a
military hospital, where a doctor told her "your daughter does not need
medical care because she is going to die." She said the doctor peeled burned
skin off her body resulting from the alleged chemical attack.

"Then my daughter died ... I don't even know where she is buried," she added

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