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Saddam Says He’s Still President, Trial A Comedy

So I guess those people who claim Iraq was better off under Saddam were misinformed, if he is still President.

From his fans at the DNC's Associated Press:

Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has denounced his trial as a "comedy" and called on Iraqis to resist the US-led occupation, prompting the judge to order a closed session.

Saddam insists he's still Iraqi president

By BASSEM MROUE

Mar 15, 12:43 PM EST

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Saddam Hussein testified Wednesday for the first time at his trial, and the judge closed the court after the ex-dictator's speech calling for Iraqis to end sectarian violence and fight U.S. troops instead.

Even as the judge repeatedly yelled at Saddam to stop making what he called political speeches, the deposed leader read from a prepared text, insisting he was still Iraq's president.

"Let the (Iraqi) people unite and resist the invaders and their backers. Don't fight among yourselves," he said, praising the insurgency. "In my eyes, you are the resistance to the American invasion."

Finally, Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman ordered the session closed to the public, telling journalists to leave the chamber. The delayed video feed also was cut.

"The court has decided to turn this into a secret and closed session," he said.

After nearly two hours, reporters were called back into the court, where Saddam sat alone in the defendants' pen before the judge.

The former Iraqi leader then refused to answer questions from the chief prosecutor, demanding to see a copy of his testimony given to investigators before the trial began. Prosecutors agreed and said they would question Saddam in the next session.

Abdel-Rahman then adjourned the trial until April 5.

Melissa Gray, A-P correspondent: Gray reports that when the trial was reopened to the public, Saddam continued his defiance of the court.

Saddam was the last of the case's eight defendants to testify. Though he has spoken frequently since the trial began in October, Wednesday's session was to be the first chance for the judge and prosecutors to directly question him on charges of killing 148 Shiites and imprisoning and torturing others during a 1982 crackdown against the Shiite town of Dujail.

Instead, Saddam – dressed in a black suit – read from his statement, insisting he was Iraq's elected president and calling the trial a "comedy."

He addressed the "great Iraqi people" – a phrase he often used in his speeches as president – and urged them to stop the wave of Shiite-Sunni violence that has rocked the country since the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra.

"What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people," Saddam said. "My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts."

Abdel-Rahman interrupted, saying Saddam was not allowed to give political speeches in the court.

"I am the head of state," Saddam replied.

"You used to be a head of state. You are a defendant now," Abdel-Rahman barked at Saddam.

As Saddam continued reading from a prepared text, the judge repeatedly turned off his microphone to prevent his words from being heard and told him to address the charges against him. But Saddam ignored the judge and continued reading from his text.

"You are being tried in a criminal case. Stop your political speech," Abdel-Rahman said angrily.

"Had it not been for politics I wouldn't be here," Saddam replied.

He went on, urging Iraqis not to fight each other.

"What happened in the last days is bad," he said. "You will live in darkness and rivers of blood for no reason."

He continued: "The bloodshed that they (the Americans) have caused to the Iraqi people only made them more intent and strong to evict the foreigners from their land and liberate their country."

At one point, Abdel-Rahman screamed at him, "Respect yourself!"

Saddam shouted back: "You respect yourself!"

"You are being tried in a criminal case for killing innocent people, not because of your conflict with America," Abdel-Rahman said.

Saddam responded, "What about the innocent people who are dying in Baghdad? I am talking to the Iraqi people."

The stormy session was a stark contrast to the past three hearings, when each of Saddam's seven co-defendants was questioned by Abdel-Rahman and the chief prosecutor.

Saddam and the seven former members of his regime face possible execution by hanging if they are convicted in connection with the crackdown in Dujail following a July 8, 1982, shooting attack on Saddam's motorcade in the town…

Hopefully, Saddam is wrong about the trial being a comedy. You can have a comedy when the lead dies in the end.

Which is how this should play out, if there is any justice.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 15th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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