At his continuing show trial in Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accused Bush of lying about Iraq’s non-existent stockpiles of chemical weapons as well as Saddam’s insistence that he was tortured in US custody. 

Speaking at the start of the seventh session of the show trial, Saddam said: ‘Zionists and Americans, I mean officials, hate Saddam Hussein.

‘The man in the White House is a liar. He said there are chemical weapons in Iraq.

‘He later said that, “We did not find anything in Iraq”.’

Referring to a White House statement that his claims that he had been tortured were ‘preposterous’, Saddam added: ‘They lied again when they said that what Saddam said was wrong.’

There were other dramatic moments during yesterday’s hearings.

The judge dismissed one of the courtroom guards after the defendants complained that he had threatened them.

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother and co-defendant, said: ‘They asked me questions and when I asked to be able to explain things they demanded that I reply by yes or no and slapped me across the face while I had handcuffs on.’

It was not immediately clear if he was referring to US or Iraqi interrogators.

Barzan repeatedly interrupted the court, protesting at one stage that much of what he was saying was being edited out of video footage of the trial which is being broadcast on televisions with a 20-minute delay.

A prosecutor then offered to resign, saying the presiding judge was not keeping proper order in the court and was allowing defendants to speak out of order. 

Presiding judge Rizkar Mohammed Amin would not accept his resignation. 

Barzan then accused the prosecutors of being former members of the Ba’ath Party. 

‘This is the biggest insult there is, accusing me of belonging to the bloody Ba’ath,’ one of the prosecutors answered.

Barzan stood up shouting: ‘Long live the Ba’ath.’ 

Meanwhile, during a ‘surprise visit’ to British troops in Basra, British Prime Minister Blair said ‘we can eventually draw down our own capability’ in Iraq.