Saddam Hussein 'forced' back to trial

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

File:TrialSaddam.jpg
This picture shows Saddam Hussein during his first appearance at the Iraqi Special Tribunal. He was the president of Iraq from 1979 until the United States-led invasion of Iraq reached Baghdad on April 9, 2003.

Saddam Hussein, who had been on hunger strike, has said in his trial today that he was taken to court from his hospital bed against his will.

The former leader of Iraq was rushed to hospital last Sunday after refusing to eat for sixteen days. But according to news agencies, he has ended the hunger strike by eating lunch at the court in Baghdad. "Saddam ate beef and rice and cola with bread which he brought from hospital," one source told Reuters news agency. He was fasting with three co-defendants, and they were demanding more security for their defence lawyers, three of whom have been murdered.

While Hussein was being treated by doctors in hospital on Monday, the trial recommenced without him. But today, he appeared in front of the court, looking slightly thinner. "I was brought against my will directly from the hospital… the Americans insisted that I come against will. This is not fair," he claimed. "Three days ago I was taken to hospital and today I was brought here forcibly from the hospital. I was fed intravenously."

He also said later on in the hearing that if he was found guilty and faced execution, he would prefer to be shot rather than hanged. "I advise you as an Iraqi, if you were in a circumstance in which you have to issue a death penalty, you have to remember that Saddam is a military man and in this case the verdict should be death by shooting not by hanging."

As his defence team has been boycotting the trial, replacement lawyers have been selected by the court. However, Hussein has dismissed the representatives brought in to defend him. "Your honour, I refuse to appear before this tribunal, but this tribunal can do as it wills," he added.

In response, Judge Abdel Rahman said: "Your lawyers were informed of the hearing and they chose not to come, despite the fact they have billions of dollars and sit in a neighbouring country, where they incite violence." Most of Hussein’s legal team is based in Amman, the capital of Jordan.

Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants are on trial charged with crimes against humanity after Hussein allegedly ordered his military forces to kill 148 people from the village of Dujail following an attempted assassination of the former dictator in 1982.

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