Saddam not present as trial resumes
Two of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants testified for the first time Sunday, denying any role in the executions and arrests of Shiites in the 1980s, as the trial of the former Iraqi leader entered a new phase. As the trial resumed after an 11-day break, just one of the accused, Mizher Abdullah Kadam Ruwayyid was in court to offer testimony as to his role in the massacre. All the defence lawyers also attended the hearing.
Ruwayyid and Ali Daih Ali - former officials in the Baath Party - were brought in separately and questioned by the chief judge and prosecutors about the crackdown against Shiites after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the town of Dujail.
Since proceedings started Oct. 19 2005, the prosecution has been bringing forward witnesses and presenting documents they claim prove the defendants' role in the crackdown. Sunday's session, however, represented the first time they have directly testified.
Judge Abdel-Rahman asked Ruwayyid to relate to the court what he was doing on the day of the assassination attempt against Saddam. Ruwayyid answered he was working as a telephone operator and he held only a low-level position in the Baath Party at the time. "I have no relation with the July 8 incident and I was not involved in any detentions that followed," he said, according to the AP. Ruwayyid and his father, the former mayor of the village, stand accused of providing authorities with a list of people suspected of "being hostile to the state", 148 of whom were later executed or tortured to death.
The next defendant, Ali, also denied helping the crackdown, saying he was in Baghdad on the day of the attempt, though he returned to Dujail later in the day. "My foot did not step into any house in Dujail. We did not harm the people of Dujail and we did not write reports about them," Ali stated.