Saddam Hussein Hears Charges Read In Iraqi Court
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Saddam Hussein listens as a list of charges that he and 11 other high level defendents will face is read in an Iraqi courtroom Thursday.
msnbc.com news services
updated 7/4/2004 5:04:18 AM ET 2004-07-04T09:04:18

Iran said on Sunday it would submit an indictment to the Baghdad court trying Saddam Hussein, who as president waged a protracted war against his neighbor.

Saddam, caught last year by U.S. troops, appeared in court on Thursday and was told by an Iraqi judge he would face charges relating to seven alleged crimes spanning three decades, but no mention was made of the 1980-1988 war against Iran.

"Iran will definitely submit an indictment to the court, it is ready," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a news conference. "The trial should be open and his crimes against Iran should be reviewed."

Charges against Saddam cover invading Kuwait in 1990, suppressing uprisings by Kurds and Shi'ites after the 1991 Gulf war, ethnic cleansing of Kurds in 1987-88 and gassing Kurdish villagers in 1988.

Hundreds of thousands died on both sides in the war of attrition between Iran and Iraq, in which Baghdad used poison gas against Iranian soldiers and civilians.

Defense team to send lawyer to Baghdad
Despite safety concerns, a team of lawyers that claims to represent Saddam Hussein is dispatching an envoy to Iraq to try to meet with the deposed Iraqi dictator, group members said Saturday.

"I am leaving to Iraq on Sunday, despite the risk, which I am ready to bear," Ziad Najdawi, one of 20 Jordanian and foreign lawyers appointed by Saddam's wife, Sajida, said.

Mohammed Rashdan, who heads the defense team, told The Associated Press that they decided to dispatch Najdawi to present Iraqi authorities with the power of attorney signed by Sajida and try to meet Saddam.

"We are trying to move for the defense of Mr. President Saddam Hussein, despite our concern for the safety of our colleague," Rashdan said. "The trial began and the president has been denied his legal right to a lawyer, which is in violation of international law and the due process."

The defense lawyers have claimed that Iraqi authorities have threatened them if they traveled to Iraq.

On Thursday, Issam Ghazawi, one of the lawyers on the team, said he had received a telephone call from Iraqi Justice Minister Malek Dohan al-Hassan, who allegedly threatened that if the lawyers made it to Baghdad, they "will not only be killed, but cut into pieces."

Another lawyer, Ziad al-Khasawneh, said al-Hassan has told him to go visit mass graves that Saddam is responsible for "instead of defending him."

There was no immediate comment from al-Hassan or the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan.

Rashdan said Saturday he had received a bomb threat on the telephone from an anonymous caller. "His accent was Iraqi and he threatened to blow up the building where my office is and kill my family," Rashdan said. He said he reported the threat to police.

Powell: Saddam deserves fair trial
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein should be assumed to be innocent in his trial.

“The people of the world should watch carefully, listen carefully,” Powell said in his first comments on the judicial process against Saddam and 11 former aides that began on Thursday in Baghdad.

“Assume he’s innocent if you will, and let’s assume that, and let the Iraqi people through their courts decide,” Powell said in an interview with Indonesian television channel RCTI on the sidelines of an Asian security meeting in Jakarta.

“You will see a new kind of justice in Iraq and I hope the people of the world and all Indonesians will measure it that way,” he said.

He contrasted the trial of Saddam with someone facing the justice system during Saddam’s rule.

“Can you imagine what it was like two years ago if he had arrested somebody? Do you think that person would have been considered innocent?” he asked.

“That person would have been in a grave by now.”

Saddam calls Bush the real 'criminal'
On Thursday, a defiant Saddam rejected accusations of war crimes and genocide in court, telling a judge in his first public appearance since his capture seven months ago that the real "criminal" was President Bush.

Video: Saddam's hands were cuffed when he was brought to the court but the shackles were removed for the 30-minute arraignment at Camp Victory, a former Saddam palace on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"I am Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq," Saddam said unprompted, sitting down in a chair facing the judge on the other side of a wooden railing. When asked his name, he responded: "Saddam Hussein al-Majid, president of Iraq."

“Put down 'former' in brackets,” the judge said to a clerk who was taking dictation on the proceedings, referring to Saddam’s declared occupation as head of state.

The appearance, broadcast on Arab satellite television stations, gave Iraqis their first glimpse of the former dictator since his capture by the U.S. military seven months ago. They saw a Saddam whose mood ranged from nervousness and exasperation to contempt and defiance. At times he lectured the judge — who declined to give his name but said he was appointed to the bench under Saddam — with flashes of anger punctuating his comments.

Unaccompanied by a lawyer, Saddam refused to sign a list of charges against him unless he had legal counsel, and he questioned the court's jurisdiction.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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