Saddam Hussein admits to requesting trials

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 File:TrialSaddam.jpg

Saddam Hussein at Trial
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Former leader of Iraq Saddam Hussein has admitted before the court on Wednesday that he had ordered the trial of Shia Muslims, 148 of which were ultimately executed, as well as the 1982 raze on the farming village of Dujail after an assassination attempt by members of the Daawa party. During the raze, 1,500 residents were incarcerated and tortured, and over 1,000 square kilometers of land was destroyed. The town was rebuilt shortly after the attack.

The former leader defended his actions and suggested that the court should be trying him, and him alone.

"I razed them... we specified the farmland of those who were convicted and I signed," he told the court. He later added, "If it was a crime to refer for trial those accused of shooting at the president, then try me and save a lot of trouble…"

"I am Saddam Hussein. I was in charge, and just because things have changed, I am not going to say someone else was responsible."

Chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Moussawi, presented the court with documents and letters in an attempt to link Hussein to the trials and subsequent executions. The documents consisted of over 100 death certificates of villagers hanged after being convicted by the Revolutionary Court, which has been called an "imaginary trial" by the prosecution. The documents also contained transfer orders for families that were relocated to the desert. One document, apparently originating with the Iraqi secret service, said that close to fifty of the accused had died during interrogation.

Defending his co-accused, Awad al-Bandar, Hussein stated, "I referred them to the revolutionary court according to the law. Awad was implementing the law, he had a right to convict and acquit."

His defense team indicated that he was Iraq’s president at the time and all actions were taken in accordance with Iraqi law. Nehal Bhuta, a legal expert for Human Rights Watch told ABC news, "What we saw today was not Saddam admitting guilt, but admitting to the fact that he acted in accordance with his official duties and powers."

Both Hussein and his defense team remained subdued during the prosecution's testimony, a contrast with the often chaotic outbursts that eventually lead to Hussein and his lawyers refusing to return to court.

The trial thus far has seen the deaths of two defense lawyers, the resignation of a the judge who first presided in the trial, and numerous complaints by human rights groups that a fair trial is impossible.

The trial, which began last October, has been adjourned until March 12th.