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Prosecutors in Saddam...s Trial Press His Links to Executions

By Robert F. Worth


Saddam Hussein was brought back to the courtroom by force as his trial resumed Monday, and prosecutors made their strongest efforts yet to tie him to executions carried out after an attempt to assassinate him in 1982.

The trial continued as a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowd of people waiting outside a bank in Baghdad, one of several attacks across Iraq that left at least 18 people dead and dozens wounded.

As he entered the courtroom, Saddam, dressed in a dark jacket and Arab dishdasha rather than his usual suit, lashed out angrily at the judge for forcing him to return to the courtroom. Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman ordered Saddam and his fellow defendants out of court two weeks ago for disruptive behavior, and two sessions have been held without Saddam since then.

Saddam seemed bent on trying the judge’s patience again on Monday, as did his half brother and fellow defendant Barzan Ibrahim.

“Down with Bush, long live the nation!” Saddam shouted, waving his fist at the judge. Later in the day, he interrupted a witness to call out, “This is terrorism!”

Ibrahim, who was dragged out kicking and screaming after his last courtroom appearance, complained repeatedly about his treatment, and at one point sat down on the floor, facing away from the judge, and appeared to fall asleep.

The session began with victim testimony of the kind that has occupied the trial since it began on Oct. 19. But prosecutors introduced two new elements: documentary evidence and two former members of Saddam’s government.

The first witness, Ahmed Hussein Khudayr al-Samarrai, the head of Saddam’s presidential office, made clear at once that he was appearing against his will. He said he knew nothing about the events in question at the trial: The torture and execution of 148 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail, where the assassination attempt took place.

Prosecutors showed Samarrai a 1984 document apparently written and signed by Saddam approving “the execution of the Dujail criminals.” Asked whether writing at the bottom of the document was his own, Samarrai said he could not be sure.

A second witness, Hassan al-Obeidi, an intelligence officer, also said he had been forced to testify, and insisted that he had no special knowledge of the Dujail case.