"Peace be upon the people of peace," were the first words Saddam Hussein spelled as he walked into the court room in Baghdad's Green Zone in the second session of his trial over the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims in a town north of Baghdad. Although his seven co-defendants appeared tired and nervous, he was the only one wearing a western suite and looking strong. Like the first session on October 19, 2005, when Saddam began his statements with an argument with chief judge about who chose him to head this court and refused to identify himself saying there isn't a person in Iraq who doesn't know him, the former president complained that he was brought into the court building Monday hand cuffed and in shackles. The bearded Saddam also complained that the elevator was not working and had to walk up the stairs. This is Saddam Hussein, who until April 9, 2003, the day he was removed from power by a U.S.-led no Iraqi dared to refer to him but as "Mr. President Saddam Hussein may God protect him." Now Saddam is told by the judge that he is not supposed to talk unless it is his turn to do so or not to move without being accompanied by policemen. The former leader's trial has also divided Iraqis with many Shiites and Kurds saying he does not deserve to be treated well after what he did during his 1979-2003 rule and should be executed following a quick trial while many of the country's Sunni Arab community, which he belongs to, say he is still the legitimate president of the country.
But Saddam, carrying a copy of the Quran, stood Monday and complained to the judge how foreign soldiers took his pen and papers from him before entering the court room. When the chief judge told Saddam "I will alert them," the former president said "Mr. chief judge I don't want you to alert them. I want you to order them. You are on a sovereign land. You are an Iraqi and they are foreigners. They are invaders. You should order them."
The trial this time was different from last time. Two members of the defense team were assassinated, and a third fled the country with his family. But there was also three new faces among the defense team on top of them former American Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former Qatari Minister of Justice Najib al-Nuemi and Jordanian lawyer Issam Ghazzawi. For years Ramsey Clark was an anti-war activist in the United States and visited Iraq several times when the country was under crippling U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam invaded in August 1990. Neither Saddam no his seven co-defedants in the case of the town of Dujail in 1982 when security agencies killed 148 people following an assassination attempt against the leader, spoke much Monday. The court showed two videos, one taken shortly after the assassination attempt showing Saddam giving orders to his men to detain several people, while the other is of a witness who died last month but his testimony was taped before. Waddah al-Sheik made his comments in a Baghdad hospital while sitting on a wheel chair and looking very weak. He died of cancer after the testimony. Saddam's half brother Barzan Ibrahim, who was chief of intelligence in 1982, complained that he was suffering from cancer and the court was not allowing him to leave the country for treatment abroad. "This is an indirect killing," Barzan told the judge.
It is not clear for how long the trial will go on for but whenever it ends Saddam still has about a dozen trials to stand for killing thousands of people.
On the first day of the trial last month, Saddam said "I am not guilty."
It was adjourned until Monday, December 5, 2005.
Baghdad Monday November 28, 2005