Accessibility links

Breaking News

Saddam Trial Adjourns After Graphic Testimony on 1982 Massacre

The trial of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for alleged crimes against humanity has been adjourned until January 24. Saddam again charged he was abused by the American military after his capture, a charge strongly denied by U.S. officials.

Saddam and seven co-defendants listened quietly through most of the testimony from three witnesses, one of whom told of losing six brothers after an alleged assassination attempt on Saddam's life in the Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982.

All three witnesses said they had been exiled to live in desert camps with other village residents, where all of their belongings were taken from them. They testified that they returned to Dujail three years later to find demolished farms, occupied homes and missing relatives.

But it was the defense team's cross-examination that brought about most of Thursday's theatrics.

Defense lawyers, Saddam and other defendants started by accusing the witnesses of being too young in 1982 to remember the events accurately.

Saddam said the White House lied about his regime possessing chemical weapons, and lied about his allegations on Wednesday that he was tortured while in U.S. custody.

"I documented my injuries before three medical teams, and almost healing now eight months later. And some bruises and marks are still clear. We don't lie, the White House lies," he said.

The Bush administration has called Saddam's allegations preposterous and a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad called Saddam's allegations about torture completely unfounded.

The Iraqi court's chief investigative judge, Raid Juhi, backed up that statement. Judge Juhi said none of the defendants has been hurt or abused during interrogation. He said Saddam and the other co-defendants were living in conditions better than most Iraqis, with 24-hour electricity, clean water and good food.

Later, Saddam's half-brother and former director of intelligence, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, questioned the legitimacy of the court. The prosecutor threatened to leave, then the defense team threatened to leave, then three of co-defendants, including Saddam, stood up to go.

Guards quickly moved to physically stop the departure of the defendants. Calm was restored after the judge dismissed a guard who the defense team appeared to dislike.

The court announced it would recess until January 24, to observe the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that comes early next month.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are accused of ordering or carrying out the torture and the massacre of more than 140 Shi'ite Muslims in Dujail.