Saddam Hussein's trial continued Wednesday in Baghdad after a two week recess for Iraq's election of a new National Assembly. The court heard evidence against Saddam and seven former high-ranking members of his regime.
For most of the day, Saddam listened quietly as three witnesses detailed torture, mistreatment and murder at the hands of his Baathist regime. At one point in the afternoon, Saddam asked if the court could break for afternoon prayers. The judge denied that request, so Saddam prayed where he sat in the courtroom. But before leaving the court Wednesday, Saddam charged that he was tortured while in American custody. "Yes, we were beaten by the Americans, and we were tortured, every one of us," he said.
While Saddam made the allegations, the audio feed for the broadcast was cut, although the video still remained. The broadcast is on a 30-minute delay, controlled by the Iraqi Court, to delete any unwanted content before the broadcast airs.
When asked about Saddam's charge, a State Department spokesman said he knows of no evidence to substantiate the former Iraqi dictator's allegation.
The testimony that the court heard Wednesday came from former residents of the town of Al Dujail, where Saddam Hussein's convoy was attacked as it passed through the town in 1982. In retaliation, prosecutors say, Saddam ordered 140 people from the town to be killed.
Witness Ali Hassan al-Haidari described for the court how Saddam's security forces murdered and tortured local residents in response to the assassination attempt. He said he was imprisoned for four years, beginning at the age of 14, with the rest of his family.
He also told the court that Saddam was responsible for the murder of his seven brothers, as revenge for the assassination attempt.
At one point, co-defendant Barzan Hassan AL Tikriti, Saddam's half brother and the former chief of intelligence, hurled expletives at the witness, and accused him of lying. Court guards later told Tikriti to sit down, or they would beat him.
The trial is set to continue Thursday and is expected to last for months.