Saddam on Hunger Strike

Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, has announced in court that he is on hunger strike to protest at tough stances by the chief judge in a heated start to the latest session of his trial.

Saddam on Hunger Strike
Saddam also shouted his support for the Iraqi anti-US fighters, yelling "Long live the Arab nation" and "Long live the mujahidin," as he entered the courtroom and immediately began a heated exchange with Rauf Abd al-Rahman, the chief judge.

"For three days we have been holding a hunger strike protesting against your way in treating us - against you and your masters," Saddam told Abd al-Rahman, who in Monday's session ordered the eight defendants to attend the court despite a boycott by their original defence team. 

Taha Yassin Ramadan, former vice president, shouted: "You kick out our lawyers, you bring in witnesses by force and those that testify against us are anonymous - is there a trial like this anywhere else in the world." As the judge pounded his gavel to restore order, Saddam told him to "take that hammer and knock yourself on the head."

'Farce' trial

After further arguments, the judge finally called the first witness, an anonymous former member of the intelligence services who testifed from behind a screen.

Khalil al-Dulaimi says his client
was tricked into arriving in court 

"It's like a TV serial, it has to continue," said Saddam contemptuously from the dock.

Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's lead defence lawyer, who together with the rest of the defence team is boycotting the hearings, called the trial a "farce" and charged that his client was tricked into appearing in court on Monday. 
   
On Tuesday, a total of three officials from Saddam's regime are expected to testify about the events surrounding the massacre of Shias from the village of Dujail in the 1980s for which Saddam and his seven co-accused have been charged.

The eight defendants face the death penalty if convicted on charges including murder and torture over the massacre, which followed an attempt on Saddam's life in 1982 in Dujail. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Saddam aides testify

The three witnesses are Hammad Yusuf Hamadi, former minister of culture and personal aide to Saddam, and Fadil Muhammad, a former intelligence official, and an anonymous witness.

For the first time on Monday, the court heard testimony from Saddam aides - chief of staff and an intelligence official - after hearing from victims of the regime during previous hearings.   

Both witnesses, however, said they had been forced to testify and did not want to take the stand against their "president".  

Al-Tikriti voiced anger at being
dragged back to the courtroom 

Much of Monday's three-hour session was dominated by Saddam and his half brother Barzan al-Tikriti, the former head of the intelligence service, who voiced anger at being dragged back to the courtroom after a boycott.

Court-appointed lawyers

At the 27 January hearing, new presiding judge Abd al-Rahman ejected Barzan for disruptive behaviour, an action that provoked a cascade of events that resulted in the entire defence team as well as all of the defendants boycotting the next session of the trial on 2 February.

Raid al-Juhi, the court spokesman, said the judge decided to implement article 171 of the criminal code and compel the defendants to attend their trial.
 
The spokesman on Monday said: "The trial was very transparent with respect for the human rights of the defendants." 

The defendants now have court-appointed lawyers after the defence team walked out of the 29 January session in protest at the judge's expulsion of Barzan.

Source: Al Jazeera

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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