‘LONG LIVE PALESTINE’ – says Saddam Hussein in a letter from jail

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Imprisoned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has vowed in a letter to sacrifice himself for the cause of Palestine and Iraq. He urged Arabs to follow his path and used language implying he would become a martyr for the Arab cause.

The letter, published in two Jordanian newspapers on Sunday, was delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to an old friend of Saddam’s now living in Jordan.

The Iraqi president was expected to stand trial in Iraq this autumn on charges that could bring the death penalty.

Saddam wrote: ‘My soul and my existence is to be sacrificed for our precious Palestine and our beloved, patient and suffering Iraq.

‘Life is meaningless without the considerations of faith, love and inherited history in our nation.

‘It is not much for a man to support his nation with his soul and all he commands because it deserves it since it has given us life in the name of God and allowed us to inherit the best.

‘My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.’

It was believed to have been the first letter, since Saddam was captured in December 2003, sent to someone other than a family member.

Tayseer Homsi, secretary-general of the Jordanian Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, said the message had been delivered through the ICRC to an ‘independent Jordanian political figure who wished to remain anonymous’.

Rana Sidani, a spokeswoman for the ICRC’s Iraq delegation in Amman, said: ‘The ICRC has confirmed the authenticity of the message published in the Jordanian media.

‘The ICRC collected the message.

‘It was censored by the detaining authorities before being handed over to the ICRC for distribution.’

A friend of Saddam’s family, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid straining relations with them, said the ‘handwriting is 100 per cent Saddam’s’.

Jordanian Ba’ath Party chief Homsi said the letter’s recipient gave his party a copy of the letter three days ago.

‘The Jordanian man wished to remain anonymous, he’s an old friend of Saddam, he’s not a member of our party nor is he a party functionary,’ Homsi said, declining to identify the man.

Ad-Dustour and Al-Arab Al-Yawm, Jordan’s second and third largest dailies, said the letter was given to them by Homsi’s party at a press conference last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Badi Arif, lawyer of captive Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, has denied that his client gave American or Iraqi interrogators any information that incriminates Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in return for his release.

In a statement to Jordan’s Al-Dustur newspaper before leaving Amman for Baghdad, Arif said the American authorities would last Saturday, allow Tariq Aziz to meet with six members of his family: his wife, one of his daughters and her children and his sister.

Arif provided Al-Dustur with a number of letters he received from Tariq Aziz in his meetings with him during court sessions.

In one letter on his testimony in the case of President Saddam Hussein on 9 August 2005, Aziz says: ‘I stress once again that I will not be a witness against anyone, especially against President Saddam Hussein, may God watch over him.

‘I cannot say anything that might harm my honour and conscience.’

In another letter on 16 August 2005, Aziz says: ‘If there is a request to try me outside Iraq, I demand that the court be international (not made up of Iraqis) with international attendance, and the lawyers who defend me be foreigners, Arabs and lawyer Badi Arif.

‘The free Arab and international media must attend the trial.’

In another letter dated 16 August 2005, Aziz says: ‘They are treating me now as a defendant and a witness at the same time.

‘They promise that if I cooperate with them as a witness, my trial could be halted.

‘I reject this and demand that they try me for the charges pressed against me first.

‘I will not be a witness against anyone, especially President Saddam, may God watch over him.

‘I am confident that the charges levelled against me are false and tendentious.

‘I demand a fair trial attended by all the lawyers who are willing to defend me, be they Iraqis, Arabs, or non-Arabs.’

Disclosing some aspects of the interrogations of his client, Arif said the interrogators asked Aziz whether President Saddam Hussein intended to occupy Saudi Arabia after occupying Kuwait.

Arif said Aziz answered: ‘No. President Saddam did not have such an intention. Our relations with Saudi Arabia were good.’

Asked about the trial of the Iraqi president, Arif said that he, as a man of law, rules out the possibility of Saddam receiving a fair trial under the current circumstances that Iraq is experiencing.

He expected the trial to be moved out of Iraq, but he did not say in which country it will take place.

He said it is likely that some deals will be struck between the Americans and the resistance or that a national reconciliation will be announced under which the trial of the leaders of the Saddam regime will be halted.

On the date Aziz will be released, the lawyer said that the release will not take place in the next few days, but might take place within weeks, not months.

He said he got the information after holding many meetings with Iraqi and American interrogators of his client.

He said the relationship between them is good and that he meets with his client two times a week without facing any harassment.

He said he expects further developments regarding the situation of his client in the next few days, but he did not want to give more details at present.

He said he expects other detainees to be freed, but he did not identify them.

Lawyer Arif appealed to the world public to intervene to release a number of Iraqi prisoners who have been detained without any charges.

They include Dr Jamal Mustafa, husband of Saddam Hussein’s daughter Hala; Dr Huda Salih Mahdi, who is suffering from cancer; Dr Hamid Tawfiq, former Basra governor; Dr Hasan al-Ubaydi; and Dr Isam Rashid Huwaysh, former governor of the Iraqi Central Bank.

Arif said that he received from his client Dr Huwaysh on 15 August 2005 a letter addressed to the world public in which he says: ‘I ask: What is the reason or justification of my detention for more than two years in Camp Cropper without any legal charges?

‘I oppose this violation of human rights and appeal to the world public, the Red Cross and President Bush personally to intervene and put an end to this human right violation.

‘Once again: Why am I here? I want an answer for the sake of justice and humanity.’

The former Iraqi Central Bank governor addressed another message to the Human Rights Commission and to the Iraqi and American peoples on 16 August 2005, appealing for intervention to secure his release.

On the charges against the former Central Bank governor, lawyer Arif said Huwaysh is accused of delivering about one billion and 90 million euros at the request of Saddam Hussein and the then finance minister, who feared that the money might fall in the hands of the American occupation soldiers.