Saddam Refuses To Plead

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IRAQI President Saddam Hussein, seized by US occupation forces after the invasion of the country, yesterday refused to recognise the authority of the court set up to try him, accusing its judge of being an agent of the occupation.

‘You are here in the name of the occupier not in the name of Iraq,’ Saddam told the judge.

‘My name is known to Iraqis and to the world,’ he added, speaking clearly and in a strong voice.

He introduced himself as ‘Saddam Hussein, the president of the Republic of Iraq and the commander-in-chief of the Mujahideen (Iraqi forces).’

The court set up under the US-led occupation in Baghdad is accusing the Iraqi leader of genocide against Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq at the end of the Iraq-Iran war in 1988.

Saddam was pressed by judge Abdallah al-Ameri to identify himself.

But when the time came to enter a plea, he refused to respond, and the judge ordered a plea of ‘innocent’ to be entered into the record.

A verdict has yet to be delivered in hearings against the captured president on separate charges of organising the alleged killing of 148 Shias.

• Second news story

11 charged with conspiracy offences

Eleven people have been charged out of the 23 suspects held in connection with an alleged plot to blow up airlines.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke told a Metropolitan Police press briefing that: ‘I cannot give you details of the specific evidence against individuals.’

All he could offer was ‘an indication of the type of evidence that will be presented in support of the prosecution’.

Crown Prosecution Service official Susan Hemming said that ‘eight individuals are being charged with conspiracy to murder and the new offence of preparing acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

‘In addition, three separate individuals are being charged with other offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.

‘One, a 17-year-old, is being charged with possession of articles useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism, and, two, with failing to disclose information of material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism.

‘One woman has been released from custody without charge.’

Hemming reminded journalists that ‘these individuals are only accused of these offences at the moment and they have a right to a fair trial’ and called for ‘responsible media reporting’.

Eleven people are still being held and police are applying to the High Court to extend the time allowed to detain them without charge when it runs out tomorrow.

One of those charged yesterday is a woman with an eight months old baby who was applying for a judicial review of her detention.