Two sides of the Saddam coin

WEE GORDON

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:mad: The presiding judge, Rizgar Mohammad Amin, must have known beforehand that he was going to have a battle on his hands.


Saddam looked older and paler since his last time in court

He and the other four judges on the bench had to maintain their control over Saddam Hussein. He, for his part, was determined to try to take over the proceedings.

And so there was extraordinary tension in the courtroom as Saddam Hussein was brought in.

He was free of the chains and handcuffs which were imposed on him in the past, but two Iraqi guards in bullet-proof jackets gripped him firmly by the arms.

The five judges, the two groups of lawyers, and the small number of journalists, foreign and Iraqi, at the back of the court in a glassed-off pen, all stared fixedly at Saddam as he was brought forward.

To me he seemed distinctly older, thinner and more pallid than when he appeared in court last. But he was determined to make a fight of it.

We sat behind him, so we could only see his hand upraised or his finger prodding in the direction of the judges' bench as he refused to give his name and insisted on challenging the right of the court to try him.

Yet when the judge finally ordered him to sit down, he did so meekly, shambling away from the microphone to his seat a little apart from the other seven defendants.

Joking with defendants

There was the same switch between defiance and obedience later. When the prosecutor outlined the case against him he interrupted several times, accusing the prosecutor of lying.


The former Iraqi leader made jokes about the way his ex-aides looked

Yet when he was asked to plead he said quietly, "Not guilty".

There was a final moment of resistance just as the court was adjourned to consider the request from the defence for more time to examine the documents produced by the prosecution.

Saddam had finally acknowledged the other defendants for the first time, smiling and making jokes about the changes in their appearance since the last time he had seen them, when they were still serving his regime.

Then the two guards took him by the arms again to lead him out.

He let them do it for a few steps, but then he saw the journalists behind the bullet-proof glass at the back of the court.

Immediately he tried to pull away from his guards, telling them not to touch him and to leave him alone.

After a while they did, and he shambled slowly out of the courtroom.

It was a last display of defiance until the trial resumes on 28 November.:mad:
 
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