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Prosecutors show documents, tapes at Saddam trial

Written by: Staff
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Baghdad, Mar 01: Prosecutors trying Saddam Hussein today (Mar 01, 2005) read out documents, showed satellite images and played audio tapes in an attempt to prove the former Iraqi leader committed crimes against humanity in the 1980s.

Appearing in court for a second day this week, Saddam was mostly subdued as chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi laid out what he said was evidence linking Saddam to the execution of Shi'ite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt in Dujail.

Following a week of sectarian violence that has killed hundreds and pitched Iraq toward civil war, Saddam used an opportunity to address the court to recall the unity of Iraqis in the war he waged against Iran in the 1980s.

After several hours of proceedings, the judge adjourned the trial, which began last October, until March 12.

A day after prosecutors presented what they said was a death warrant signed by Saddam for 148 Shi'ite men from Dujail, Moussawi today showed more papers this time, he said, showing the condemned men's trial had been a farce.

Seeking to pin Saddam to the crimes, Moussawi also showed aerial pictures of fields laid waste around Dujail, scene of the 1982 attempt to kill Saddam, and played an audio tape of Saddam in discussion with a Baath party official.

In previous proceedings, the judge has heard testimony from witnesses recounting how they were tortured by Saddam's aides.

With documents and other evidence, prosecutors hope to establish a chain of command directly linking Saddam to the alleged atrocities.

If convicted, Saddam, 68, could face death by hanging.

Saddam, who challenged the authenticity of the documents, complained about the prosecutor's behaviour and the judge's disciplining of his half-brother and co-accused, Barzan al- Tikriti.

UNITY

The former leader's trial has been overshadowed by fears that Iraq's sectarian tensions are out of control, but Saddam, who has dominated court proceedings in the past with lengthy tirades against the US-backed tribunal, spoke of unity.

"Saddam didn't win in 1988 but the Iraqi people won...Arab and Kurds and all other religions and sects", said Saddam, who appeared more subdued than in previous rowdy appearances.

When chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman politely asked Saddam to finish, Saddam said:'' Give me some time, I have been your president for 35 years. I am still the president of Iraq according to the constitution.'' Saddam's calls for Iraqi unity come a week after suspected al Qaeda militants bombed a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra, sparking reprisal killings against minority Sunnis and stalling US-backed efforts to forge a government of national unity that would include Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

The trial has been marred by the killing of two defence lawyers, the resignation of the previous judge and concerns by international human right groups who say violence in Iraq makes a fair trial impossible.

The prosecution has seven witnesses left, one being the interior minister at the time of the Dujail events, Saadoun Shaker, and six residents of Dujail, court sources said.

The testimony of one resident in the town, who died before appearing in court, was taped before an investigating magistrate, the sources said.

Saddam's trial was again thrown into disarray yesterday when his top defence lawyers walked out after their pleas for an adjournment and the removal of the judge were rejected.

Reuters

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