Witnesses appear in Saddam trial
Updated: 2006-05-16 20:04
The defense presented witnesses Tuesday in the trial of Saddam Hussein and
former members of his regime, a day after the judge formally charged them with
crimes against humanity that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
testifies after chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman read to him his charges
during his trial in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Monday May 15,
2006 in Baghdad, Iraq. The chief judge formally charged Saddam Hussein on
Monday with murder, torture of women and children and the illegal arrest
of 399 people in a crackdown against Shiites in the 1980s, bringing the
trial of the ousted Iraqi leader into a new phase.
Only three lower-level defendants were in court ！ Abdullah Kazim al-Ruwayyid,
his son, Mizhar, and Mohammed Azzawi ！ as the first witness took the stand,
testifying from behind a curtain to protect his identity.
Under the Iraqi system, the announcement of charges against Saddam and his
seven co-defendants effectively puts the burden of proof on the defense to
dismiss the accusations, bringing the seven-month-old trial to a new, intense
The charges represent the accusations that the panel of five judges believe
that the evidence so far has supported. Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman read the
charges Monday after months of hearing prosecution witnesses describe torture at
the hands of Saddam's intelligence agents and documents allegedly tying the
Iraqi leader to a crackdown against Shiites in the town of Dujail in the 1980s.
Calling Saddam before him Monday, Abdel-Rahman accused him of "crimes against
humanity" by ordering a "systematic, wide-scale attack" on Dujail ！ including
the killings of women and children, torture and the imprisonment of 399 people.
He read similar charges against each of the remaining defendants.
Intelligence and security forces swept up hundreds of Dujail residents
following a 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the town. Abdel-Rahman
listed the names of 17 people ！ including women and children ！ out of some 46
that prosecutors say died in prison or from torture during interrogation.