View Full Version : Chaos Mars Saddam Court Hearing

12-05-2005, 10:02 AM
Chaos mars Saddam court hearing



The trial of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has resumed after a walkout by defence lawyers initially threw the third hearing into disarray.

The team was angered by the judge's initial refusal to hear their concerns over the legitimacy of the court and extra security for defence lawyers.

The judge later allowed the defence to speak out. The first witness to appear in person then gave his testimony.

Saddam Hussein and seven former aides deny involvement in a 1982 massacre.

The killing of 148 Shia men occurred in Dujail, north of Baghdad, following an assassination attempt.

The defendants could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Presiding judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin allowed defence lawyers to speak out after a 90-minute recess.

One of them, former Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi questioned the legitimacy of the tribunal.

Another, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, said that unless the trial was seen as "absolutely fair", it would "divide rather than reconcile Iraq".

He also called for more security for the defence team, following the murder of two lawyers in recent weeks.

'Frightening scene'
Witness Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al-Dujaili - who says he was among many people arrested in Dujail - then addressed the court.

"I heard a knock on the door and secret service people came in," he said.

"People were taken to prison and most were killed there.

"The scene was frightening. Even women with babies were arrested."

The witness said he saw the bodies of some of his neighbours.

Up to 10 witnesses have been lined up to describe the Dujail massacre.

Some are expected to have their identities concealed.

When the session opened on Monday, the judge ruled that only written complaints would be considered, triggering scenes of chaos.

Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother, stood up in the dock and shouted: "Long live Iraq! Long live Arabs! Down with the dictators! Long live democracy!"

The BBC's John Simpson at the court says the proceedings were at times remarkably confused, with members of the defence team shouting at the judge, the judge shouting back, and Saddam Hussein making his own angry comments from the dock.

The chaos prompted the judge to order a recess.

The defence team has long challenged the legitimacy of the process - which is being conducted by an Iraqi court set up under a mixture of Iraqi and international statutes.

Defence lawyers are demanding additional security arrangements after the murder of the two of their colleagues in recent weeks.

Ahead of Monday's session, one of the five judges stepped down citing a potential conflict of interest, as one of the co-defendants may have been involved in killing his brother.

Another judge was due to replace him.

12-05-2005, 04:24 PM
Saddam-era Iraqi prime minister dies in U.S. custody
Reuters (http://today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-12-05T160109Z_01_RID557647_RTRUKOC_0_US-IRAQ-SADDAM-DEATH.xml)

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi, who was one of Saddam Hussein's most senior deputies in the early 1990s, died in U.S. detention last week, the U.S. military said on Monday. Zubaidi, on the U.S. military's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis during the war, died at a U.S. military hospital on December 2, said Lieutenant Colonel Guy Rudisill, spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq.

The U.S. military issued a statement about the death of an individual on Saturday, but did not refer to Zubaidi by name.

"A 67-year-old male security detainee was pronounced dead by the attending physician at the 344th Corps support hospital at 7:30 a.m. on December 2," is all that statement said.

His identity only became clear when Saddam's half-brother, a co-defendant in a trial for crimes against humanity, revealed Zubaidi's death during a courtroom complaint on Monday about what he said were poor medical facilities for detainees.

It is not clear what Zubaidi died of or where he was being held before being taken to the hospital for treatment.

As a high-profile prisoner, it is likely that he was being held at Camp Cropper, a small prison near Baghdad airport where Saddam and other major prisoners are also believed to be held.

Zubaidi was the commander of the middle Euphrates region ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He was named prime minister in 1991, following Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, but relieved of the post two years later. He was later a deputy prime minister.

After the Gulf War, when Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority rose up against Saddam, Zubaidi, himself a Shi'ite, was credited with having put down the revolt, when thousands of Shi'ite Muslims were killed by the government's security forces.

During the trial of Saddam in Baghdad on Monday, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother and one of the eight defendants, referred to Zubaidi's death.

Barzan told the judge he himself was suffering from cancer and was not receiving proper medical treatment. He said he did not want to end up like Zubaidi and five other senior members of the former regime who he said had died in custody.