Saddam Hussein yesterday insisted he was the president of Iraq, and refused to recognise the US appointed court, declining to give his name or confirm his identity.
He remained completely defiant of the US appointed Star Chamber, ‘trying’ him in the US fortress Green Zone.
Saddam questioned whether the individuals trying him even had the right to call themselves judges.
Presiding judge, Kurdish magistrate Rizkar Mohammed Amin, whose name was only revealed by the US just before proceedings opened, asked: ‘Please tell us your identity, your name’.
Saddam replied: ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’
He added: ‘I don’t answer this so-called court, with all due respect. And I reserve my constitutional right as the president of the country of Iraq. I will not go along with this.’
Saddam insisted: ‘I don’t acknowledge either the entity that authorises you, nor the aggression because everything based on falsehood is falsehood.’
He asked the US appointed individual: ‘Have you ever been a judge before?’
Amin responded: ‘There is no room for this talk in the court.’
Saddam said defiantly: ‘I am here inside this military court from 0230 this morning and since 0900 I have been in this dress.
‘You know me, if you are an Iraqi. I am the president of Iraq and you know very well I don’t get tired.’
Amin repeated: ‘I am here to ask you about your identity.’
Saddam told him: ‘I have answered this question in writing and have sent it to you.’
Looking increasingly exasperated, Amin said: ‘For the record, the witness refuses to give his name.’
He then proceeded to read out charges against Saddam and his seven fellow defendants that included torture, murder and forced imprisonment in relation to the alleged execution of 143 Iraqis in 1982 in the town of Dujail, about 80 kilometres north of Baghdad, following an attempt on Saddam’s life.
‘I said what I said, I am not guilty, I am innocent,’ Saddam insisted.
The other defendants are Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother; Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan; Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a chief judge; and Dujail Ba’ath Party officials Abdullah Kadhem Ruaid, Ali Daeem Ali, Mohammed Azawi Ali and Mizher Abdullah Rawed.
Ramadan also defied the court, saying only: ‘I repeat what President Saddam Hussein said.’
Al-Tikriti was instructed to indicate where his lawyer was.
He replied: ‘Where do you want me to see my lawyer?’
He gave a dismissive wave of his hand and sat down.
Asked his profession, Ba’ath Party official Mohammed Azzam said: ‘I was born in 1943, I am a mechanic and I worked in several towns near Dujail.’
Insisting he is innocent, Azzam asked: ‘What did I do to find myself in this court?’
Security was tight, with armed US marshals patrolling outside the courthouse in the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.