Judge tells Saddam: "You are not a
BAGHDAD ,September 14, -- The judge in Saddam
Hussein's genocide trial said on Thursday he did not
think the ousted Iraqi leader was a "dictator",
prompting a spokesman for the U.S.-sponsored court
to defend its impartiality.
Abdulla al-Amiri made his comments one day after
prosecutors demanded his resignation, complaining
that he was too soft on Saddam, who had threatened
to "crush the heads" of his accusers. They also
complained he let Saddam make long speeches in
Questioning a Kurdish farmer who testified he had
secured a face-to-face audience with Saddam in 1988
and begged him to spare the lives of his wife and
seven children, the former president said: "If I'm a
dictator, why did you come to see me?"
Amiri, who has compared his approach to the trial as
that of a referee seeking "fairness", then addressed
Saddam politely, saying: "You are not a dictator. It
is the people who surround a man who make him a
dictator". He did not elaborate.
Visibly pleased, Saddam uttered a respectful "Thank
you" and then regained his seat in the Baghdad
Iraqi High Tribunal chief investigator and spokesman
Raed Juhi sought during a news conference later to
distance the court, set up by U.S. occupying forces,
from Amiri's comment.
"The court will continue with its neutrality and its
course. The judge is only human," Juhi said.
Chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri on Saddam genocide
Former dictator Saddam Hussein (R), Ali Hassan Al-Majeed
known as "Chemical Ali" (L)
Photo : AFP
"At the end, the judge will decide guilty or not
guilty based on the evidence. This has no effect on
Saddam and six former commanders face capital
charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity
for their role in the 1988 Anfal campaign
prosecutors say left 182,000 Iraqi Kurds dead or
missing. Saddam and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majeed,
known as "Chemical Ali", also face genocide charges.
Part of the prosecution case is expected to rest on
how far Saddam was directly responsible for the
actions of his troops.
Amiri, who is a member of the majority Shi'ite
community which along with ethnic Kurds suffered
widely under Saddam's Sunni-led rule, was not
available for comment after the trial.
FACE TO FACE
Earlier, farmer Abdulla Mohammad Hussain told the
court how a furious Saddam shouted "Shut up and get
out!" when he pleaded for the release of his family,
including a 40-day-old daughter, who were rounded up
in their village in northern Kurdistan.
"He told me to approach him and I begged him for
their lives," he said, recounting a visit to one of
Saddam's palaces in dramatic testimony during the
fourth hearing this week of a trial that began last
Saddam, who has defended his policies of crushing
Kurdish rebels fighting alongside Shi'ite Iran
during the final years of the Iraq-Iran war, said he
did not remember ever seeing the witness, who
described himself as illiterate.
"Do you have a receipt that you saw me? The
Presidential Palace always issued receipts to those
who came to visit me?" Saddam asked of the alleged
incident 18 years ago.
"No. You took the receipt away from me when I saw
you," said Hussain, who is in his mid-50s and wore a
The trial was adjourned until Monday.
The initial phase of the trial has featured a litany
of often harrowing testimony from Kurdish survivors.
Saddam is also awaiting a verdict in a first,
separate, trial for crimes against humanity over the
deaths of 148 Shi'ite men.
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