THE TRIAL OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REOPENED TODAY IN BAGHDAD,
First witness testifies on tape. Trial suspended until December 5th.
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein (front) holds a Koran as Taha Yassin Ramadan (2nd row L), Abdullah Kadhem Ruaid (2nd row C), Mizher Abdullah Rawed (2nd row R), Mohammed Azawi Ali (back L) and Ali Daeem Ali stand at their trial in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone November 28, 2005. The trial of Saddam and seven aides on charges of crimes against humanity resumed after a 40-day break on Monday, with the chief judge expected to consider defence motions for a further adjournment. (REUTERS/Ben Curtis/Pool)
Advertisement - story continues below
After a short session during which the first testimony was read into the record, Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin adjourned the trial until Dec. 5 to allow time to find replacements for two defense lawyers who were slain and another who fled the country after he was wounded.
Saddam and seven co-defendants are charged in the killings of more than 140 Shiite Muslims after an assassination attempt against the former president in the Shiite town of Dujail in 1982. Convictions could bring a sentence of death by hanging. The former leader pleaded innocent to charges of murder, torture, forced expulsions and illegal detentions at the opening session last month.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and former Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi were seated with the defense team inside the heavily guarded room, along with Saddam’s chief lawyer Khalil Dulaimi.
A moment of silence was observed in memory of two defense lawyers assassinated since the trial’s opening, and defense attorneys were on hand for the session, despite threats to boycott the hearing to protest the government’s alleged failure to protect them.
Afterward, the court played the videotaped testimony of former intelligence officer Wadah Ismael al-Sheik, who investigated the assassination attempt and who died of cancer soon after making the statement in a U.S.-controlled hospital last month.
American Leftist Ramsey Clark was seated with Saddam’s Defense Team… how strange!
Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark (L) and defence lawyer Issam Ghazawi sit in the court room at Saddam’s trial in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone November 28, 2005. The trial of Saddam and seven co-defendants resumes in a fortified Baghdad courtroom on Monday with Clark joining the team defending Iraq’s overthrown president. Clark is an international observer to Saddam’s defence team. (Ben Curtis/Pool/Reuters)
The trial has now heard its first evidence – video testimony from a witness who died recently.
At least four defence lawyers have failed to turn up, although Saddam Hussein’s own lawyer did attend.
It is not clear why the missing lawyers did not appear nor which defendants they represent.
He was similarly argumentative on Monday, complaining about the fact that he had to climb four floors to the courtroom because the elevator was broken.
He also objected to being escorted up the stairs by “foreign guards”.
In a series of heated exchanges with the chief judge he also complained about the fact that his guards had taken his pen away, rendering him unable to sign the necessary court papers:
“I will alert them to the problem,” Judge Amin said in response.
“Don’t alert them! Order them. You are an Iraqi, you are sovereign and they are invaders, foreigners and occupiers,” Saddam Hussein fired back.
Advertisement - story continues below
Previously on the Saddam Trial:
Surprise! Ramsey Clark to Join Saddam Legal Team
Saddam’s Top Lawyer Quits
“Team Saddam” Back in Court
“Saddam the Victim”… Are you buying it?
Ramsey Clark Arrives in Iraq, Vows to Save Butcher
It sounds like they are glued to the sets in Iraq.