Trial of the Century
- Saddam Hearing: Full transcript
1 July 2004
Judge: Are you Saddam Hussein al-Majid?
Judge: Were you born on 28 April, 1937?
Saddam: Yes Judge: Are you the former president of Iraq?
Saddam: I am the current president of Iraq
Judge: Were you leader of the Ba'ath party and head of the armed
Saddam: Yes. Can you introduce yourself?
Judge: I am the judge of the investigative court
Saddam: Do you represent the American coalition?
Judge: I represent the Iraqi people ... You have the right to examine
witnesses and documents
Saddam: Everyone here knows this is a theatre carried out by Bush the
criminal to win the election
Judge: You are charged with seven crimes [Lists them, ending with
invasion of Kuwait]
Saddam: How can you charge me with this? You are an Iraqi and
everyone knows Kuwait is part of Iraq
Judge: This is not a trial. I am a prosecuting judge investigating
Saddam: I carried out these acts in my capacity as president of Iraq
Judge: You have a right to defence attorneys
Saddam: According to the Americans I have millions of dollars in
Geneva so I should be able to afford one
Judge: Do you have anything else to say?
Saddam: In Kuwait I was defending the Iraqi people from those Kuwaiti
dogs who wanted to turn their women in to 10-dollar prostitutes
Judge: Do not use that language in this court. Will you now sign this
document listing your rights?
Judge: Let it be recorded that he has not signed. You are dismissed
from the court.
No mention of power cuts and violence at trial of the century
01 July 2004 "The Independent" -- Now it is time for bread and
circuses. Keep the people distracted. Show them Saddam. Remind them
what it used to be like. Make them grateful. Make Saddam pay. Show
his face once more across the world so that his victims will think
about the past, not the present. Charge him. Before the full majesty
of Iraq's new "democratic" law. And may George Bush win the next
That's pretty much how it looked from Baghdad yesterday. Forget the
12-hour power cuts and the violence and the kidnappings and the
insurgency. Let's go back again to the gruesome days of Baathist
rule, let's revisit once more the theatre of cruelty - back to all
those war crimes and crimes against humanity with which the Monster
will be charged. Let's take another look at Tariq Aziz and "Chemical"
Ali and the rest. Isn't this why we came to Iraq - to rescue the
Iraqis from the Beast of Baghdad?
When Saddam was "handed over" yesterday to Iraqi officials by the
Americans - we don't know how - he apparently wanted to know if he
would have the right to a lawyer (never a previous concern of his
where prisoners were concerned). Salem Chalabi, a close relative of
the convicted fraudster and former Pentagon favourite Ahmed Chalabi,
is leading the Iraqi tribunal's work. So no surprise Saddam asked for
Saddam was freighted up from his close security prison cell in Qatar
for his meeting with "Iraqi justice" - exactly what that means was
not clear although most Western journalists used the phrase - and
will today face an Iraqi judge who will formally accuse the ex-
dictator of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trouble is,
we haven't got the charges against Saddam quite put together yet. It
will take at least a year to decide the exact details of what he's
going to be accused of.
The gassing of Halabja? Of course. The mass killings of Shia after
the 1991 rising? No doubt. The torture of innocent Iraqis at Saddam's
Abu Ghraib prison? Although that might not be a place name that the
tribunal - or the Americans - want to hear right now. And will the
death penalty be used? Quite possibly - at least, that's what an
awful lot of Iraqis would like. It was, after all, Saddam's favourite
punishment. Could "Chemical" Ali of Halabja notoriety escape such a
Then there's the little problem of the Iraqi tribunal whose "judges"
all turn out to be lawyers without, apparently, any judicial skills.
Many are Iraqis who spent years in exile - the kind with whom a
growing number of Iraqis who stayed and endured Saddam's rule are
increasingly disenchanted. A judge, so we are told, will formally
read a written text against Saddam. We don't know where. We don't
even know when - today presumably. The old "occupying" power - in
other words the new "occupying" power if you find the country's new
independence a bit hard to swallow - has let it be known that there
may be "media access" when Saddam appears.
So one of those familiar "pools" will no doubt be created - I will
put my bets on CNN and the loony right Fox News as certainties - and
we'll all be able to study Saddam at the critical moment when he
begins to "face up to his crimes", or whatever cliché we produce for
the occasion. For justice, read photo-opportunity.
Journalists will do their best to turn all this into a success story.
Even yesterday, the BBC was telling viewers that Saddam's appearance
in court was "exactly what Iraqis have been waiting for". Alas,
Iraqis have been waiting for electricity and safety and freedom from
crime and elections far more than the trial of the miserable old
murderer who will be paraded before us.
As an Iraqi woman financial consultant - no friend of the Baath
party - put it to me yesterday: "This is a childish play, written by
children for children. We have real needs and they want us to go and
watch a play."
For if the handing over of "full sovereignty" to an American-chosen
Iraqi government had about it an Alice in Wonderland quality, today's
interlude with Saddam will mark the appearance of the Cheshire Cat.
Maybe he will smile. Maybe he will shout his defiance of the judge -
and have to be restrained.
Heaven forbid he will accuse the new "interim" government of being
puppets of the United States. Or, worse, remind the court of his own
long relationship with US governments. But most assuredly, like the
Cheshire Cat, he will fade away again, put back in his box for
another 12 months until the "Trial of the Century".
Copyright: The Independent
Defiant Saddam appears in Iraqi court:
Friday 02 July 2004, 6:28 Makka Time, 3:28 GMT
Charges are expected to include crimes against humanity
Saddam Hussein has questioned the legitimacy of the tribunal set up
to try him during his first appearance in the dock.
The former Iraqi president on Thursday signalled his refusal to
cooperate after seven charges against him were read out in the
military tribunal before which he and his 11 co-accused are to be
According to Aljazeera correspondent Abd al-Adhim Muhammad, the
former president asked: "How do you bring me to this place without
any defence attorney?"
When asked by the judge to identify himself, Saddam answered, "I am
Saddam Hussein al-Majid, the president of the republic of Iraq."
Saddam refused to say "Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq."
When asked to identify his place of residence he replied: "I live in
each Iraqi's house."
Saddam also defended his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Dressed in grey and
appearing healthier and better turned-out than when he was captured,
he declared, "Kuwait is an Iraqi territory. It was not an invasion."
"I am Saddam Hussein al-Majid, the president of the republic of Iraq"
Former Iraqi presiden
Also, according to reporters who attended the 30-minute hearing which
authorities allowed to be filmed without sound, Saddam called the
Kuwaitis "dogs" and referred to the tribunal as "a play aimed at
Bush's chances of winning the US presidential elections." He also
said the "the criminal is Bush".
Responding to Saddam's comments, Kuwait's information minister said
the former leader is a "war criminal who committed genocide against
the Iraqi and Kuwaiti people."
"We demand that he face the maximum punishment, which is death for
his crimes," Muhammad Abu al-Hasan told reporters.
Exchange with the judge
According to our correspondent, Saddam asked the judge to identify
himself and asked him from where he obtained his degree in law. He
also asked him if he was an authentic judge and what laws are he
Kuwait minister of information
says Saddam is "a war criminal"
The judge said "I have worked since the former regime and I have been
nominated by coalition authorities."
Saddam then mocked the judge and said "this means you are applying
the invaders' laws to try me".
Saddam also debated the judge saying, "You are a lawman and I am a
lawman too and we have to talk according to the law".
Earlier, an armoured bus flanked by four Humvees and an ambulance
transported the former president to a secret location to face the
Upon arrival, he was led into a building by two Iraqi prison guards,
while six more guards stood to attention at the door. Saddam's first
appearance in a special Iraqi court was shrouded in secrecy, with
only a small pool of journalists and officials allowed access.
"Saddam entered the courtroom at 2:25pm (11:25 GMT). It was a small
courtroom and there were a limited number of journalists and some
officials like Muwafaq al-Rubaee. He was weak and pale and could be
hardly heard," said Abd al-Adhim Muhammad. In addition to Saddam, 11
former officials were due to appear before Iraq's special tribunal on
Charges against the deposed Iraqi leader and 11 of his senior
officials are expected to include war crimes and genocide, as well as
crimes against humanity, but it is not yet clear what offences each
individual will be charged with.
"We demand that he face the maximum punishment, which is death for
Muhammad Abu al-Hasan,
Kuwaiti information minister
According to Aljazeera's correspondent, the judge raised seven
accusations against Saddam including:
Intentionally killing civilians using chemical weapons in Halabja,
north of Iraq.
Intentionally killing civilians without trial
Intentionally killing Barazanis in 1983
Intentionally killing men of religion
Intentionally killing civilians in al-Anfal operations against Kurds
in northern Iraq
Intentionally killing civilians in the south of Iraq in 1991
Invasion of Kuwait
The proceedings were televised but not broadcast live.
They were taking place near Baghdad international airport, where the
US military is thought to have held the 12 men in solitary
confinement at a detention centre.
No formal indictment
Saddam had no lawyers to represent him at the arraignment. Formal
indictments may not be ready for months.
Similar proceedings were to be held later for his former aides,
including former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Hasan Ali al-
Majid, dubbed Chemical Ali by the US for his alleged role in using
poison gas against Kurds and Iranians.
The US military, which had held Saddam and his lieutenants as
prisoners of war, handed them over to Iraqi legal custody on
Wednesday, but will continue to hold physical custody.
Saddam, accused of ordering the killing and torture of thousands of
people during 35 years of Baathist rule, was captured by US forces in
December near his hometown of Tikrit after eight months on the run
following his 9 April overthrow.
The public last glimpsed him, dishevelled and with a bushy beard, in
television footage shot soon after his capture.
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