You are ignorant of the law, says Saddam to judge

From TimesOnline.co.uk

SADDAM HUSSEIN said that he was being forced to appear at his own trial yesterday as he and seven co-defendants reappeared in court after boycotting the last two sessions.

Abandoned by his defence team, who are protesting at the alleged bias of the judge, a Kurd, Saddam and his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti were in full attack mode, belittling the judge and railing against the legal process. “You don’t have the right to sit on that chair because you are ignorant of the law,” Saddam told Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman, slamming his fist on the railing of his metal pen. “This is not a court, this is a game.”

Mr al-Tikriti also became enraged, pushing away security guards and, at one point, sitting on the floor with his back to the judge. The accused said that they had been forced from their cells to appear in court, allegations also voiced by the day’s two principal witnesses. Hassan al-Obeidi, Iraq’s intelligence director from 1980 to 1981, and Ahmed Khudayir, the former head of Saddam’s office, refused to testify, raising a slight smile from their former leader, slouched in his chair. The court was adjourned until today.

So far the trial has been more notable for Saddam’s heated rants than the case against him. The growing perception among Iraqis is that the proceedings are prejudiced and incompetent, and the case has caused more critisism of the Iraqi Government than sense of closure to the past.

Saddam and his co-accused are charged with killing 148 men from the mostly Shia town of Dujail in reprisal for a failed assassination attempt there on the Iraqi leader in 1982. Prosecutors hope that testimony from former senior officials will help to establish a chain of command from Saddam to atrocities on the ground.