Saddam Hussein's trial resumes, ex-Iraqi President formally charged

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Monday, May 15, 2006 The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed Monday in Baghdad where the former Iraqi President is now officially charged with murder, with torturing women and children, and with razing farmland and authorizing the illegal arrests of 399 people in the 1980's.

Hussein refused to answer the charges, and when Judge Abdel-Rahman asked Hussein if he pleaded "guilty or not guilty", Hussain simply replied, "this is no way to treat the president of Iraq." Rahman then entered a plea of "not guilty" for the former President.

"I can’t just say yes or no to this. You read all this for the sake of public consumption, and I can’t answer it in brief. This statement cannot influence me or shake a hair of my head," said Hussein.

"You are before Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq. I am the president of Iraq according to the will of the Iraqis and I am still the president up to this moment," he added.

"After allegations of coming under an assassination attempt, you issued orders to security forces and the army to arrest residents and use all weapons against them. As a result of your orders to use force against Dujail residents, nine people were killed in the first two days ... and 399 others were arrested," said Rahman.

Hussein's half brother Barzan Ibrahim who was head of the Mukhabarat intelligence agency, was called in shortly after Saddam rejected to enter a plea. Ibrahim was also charged with the same offenses including the murder of 148 Dujail Shiites in 1982, who were sentenced to death for an assassination attempt on the former Iraqi President. Most died while under interrogation or were put to death.

"All you said are lies, everything you mentioned is a lie," said Ibrahim.

In the Iraqi court system, plaintiffs are the first to present their case on the complaint and present evidence against the defendants. When the charges are read, it means it's time for the defense team to present their case.

Seven other former members of Hussein's government are also on trial, facing the same charges. The trial began October 19, 2005.