Tue Dec 5, 10:55 AM ET
Saddam no longer wants to go to hearings
By JAMAL HALABY, Associated Press Writer
AMMAN, Jordan -
Saddam Hussein wrote the chief judge in his Kurdish genocide
trial to tell him that he no longer wants to attend the hearings
— whatever the consequences, according to a letter released
Tuesday by former Iraqi leader's lawyers.
In a handwritten Arabic statement made available to The
Associated Press, Saddam cited what he claimed were repeated
"insults" by chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa and
prosecutors trying him for his role in the 1987-88 military
campaign, code-named Operation Anfal.
"I wasn't given the chance to speak when I tried to clarify the
truth," Saddam wrote in the one-page letter dated Monday. He said
he wanted to respond to the prosecution's allegation that he had
stashed away $10 billion.
In Monday's hearing, an unnamed prosecutor asked al-Oreibi to
freeze the $10 billion, saying it belonged to the former regime
and had been deposited in foreign bank accounts. "We ask the
court to put its hand on the money to secure the rights of the
victims," the prosecutor said.
The judge did not respond and the hearing adjourned until
Wednesday to hear more evidence.
The authenticity of Saddam's letter, sent out by his lawyers,
could not immediately be verified. But it used language similar
to what Saddam had often used in other statements, as well as in
his courtroom speeches.
That included his use of the title: "President of the republic
and the commander in chief of the Mujahedeen (holy warriors)
armed forces" — the phrase he used to end Tuesday's letter.
Elsewhere in the letter, he wrote: "I feel disgusted. ... I will
not accept being offended continuously by you and others."
He goes on to say: "Saddam, who taught pride and dignity to many
people, refuses to attend (the trial) and be subjected to insult
by agents and their followers ... Therefore, I ask to be relieved
from attending the (court) hearings in this new comedy and you
can do whatever you want," he wrote.
Saddam and six co-defendants face the possibility of execution if
convicted for Operation Anfal. The prosecution estimates that
180,000 Kurds were killed when Saddam's army allegedly destroyed
hundreds of villages, killing or making homeless their residents
in a scorched earth campaign against separatist guerrillas in
Iraq's northern Kurdish area.
On Nov. 5, Saddam was convicted in a separate trial for the
deaths of approximately 150 Shiite Muslims following an
assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail in 1982.
He was sentenced to death by hanging.
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