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Saddam interrogated, video released

*In Saddam's birthplace, fond memories of....

- Aljazeera

(Saturday, July 23, 2005)

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"You are accused of... deporting and confiscating money belonging to Shiite Kurds of al-Fayleyah," who were allegedly killed or deported to Iran on the eve of the Iran-Iraq war, the tribunal official, identified as Munir Hadad, told Saddam in the video.

Al-Arabiya news channel aired on Thursday a videotape of Iraq's toppled leader Saddam Hussein being questioned by the Iraqi Special Tribunal over alleged crimes against Shiite Kurds. "You are accused of... deporting and confiscating money belonging to Shiite Kurds of al-Fayleyah," who were allegedly killed or deported to Iran on the eve of the Iran-Iraq war, the tribunal official, identified as Munir Hadad, told Saddam in the video. The Dubai-based satellite channel said the interrogation session took place Thursday.

The interrogation is related to the treatment of al-Fayleyah Kurds, a minority Shiite sect within the mostly Sunni Muslim Kurdish population. Several of Saddam's deputies have been questioned in relation to the abuse of al-Fayleyah villagers. Long-bearded Saddam, who was wearing a white shirt, a suit jacket and glasses, appeared to be defiant and stared directly into the judge's eyes, who in turn seemed uncomfortable and avoided eye contact with the ousted president. The toppled leader also accused the current Iraqi government of being a U.S. puppet. "I am detained by the new government which was appointed by the Americans," he said before the judge interrupted him, saying: "It was elected by (Iraqi) people," he said. Saddam's lawyer, Kkhaleel al-Dulaime, who appeared with him in other hearings before the tribunal, was seen on the video taking notes on a legal pad.

Saddam also protested that he hasnít been allowed to see his lawyer, "How come that the lawyer does not see the defendant before the hearing, and does not get informed of the interrogation session?" he asked on the videotape. In one part of the video, Saddam lectured the judge about objectivity. "You should speak independently, whether in front of me or others... in front of a foreigner or an Iraqi," he said. The judge replied: "We are an independent court... We do not belong to anyone."

Saddam was also seen signing a paper, while a voice was heard saying the paper was an authorization for his lawyer. On Sunday, a commission of Iraqi judges filed the first charges against Saddam in a case related to the 1982 killings of 143 Shiite men in the village of Dujail, northeast of Baghdad. The incident occurred after Saddam escaped an assassination attempt in the village. Saddam, his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan, former vice president Taha Yasin Ramadan, former top judge Awad Badar Al-Bender and others will face trial in connection with the Dujail case. A trial date is expected to be announced soon. If convicted, Saddam could face the death penalty.

Other investigations, including those of alleged genocide against the country's Kurdish and Shiite communities, were still continuing. Evidence in many of the cases will require the exhumation of mass graves sites, a task that has been complicated by the deteriorating security conditions in Iraq.

Saddam during interrogation - Enlarged picture
[ Photo Above: Saddam during interrogation - Enlarged picture ]
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In Saddam's birthplace

Fond memories of Uday and Qusay Friday, 22 July , 2005

Villagers of the town where former dictator Saddam Hussein was born said they retain fond memories of his slain sons Uday and Qusay, but had good reasons for not going to pay their respects on the second anniversary of their deaths. "We could not go (to the cemetery), because we are afraid that the Americans have installed invisible cameras to pick us out and then arrest us," said Ahmed al-Khattab, a cousin of the Hussein family. Hajj Saad Khraimus said he could not visit for health reasons. "I am handicapped and ill. I can't go to their graves, but I ask God to take pity on them and shelter them in paradise."

The gray sand and dirt cemetery sits at the entrance of the village and is near a US military base some 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Baghdad. The remains of Uday, Qusay and his son Mustafa who was 14 when he was killed, lay in a plot wedged between a palm tree and an electrical pylon.

"These young men are the most honorable in Iraq," said Saad al-Nassiri, outfitted in a traditional dishdasha robe and white head wrap, and who also claimed to be related to the deceased. "The Americans used their most sophisticated weaponry to take them out." Uday commanded the Fedayeen militia and Qusay headed his father's dreaded security and intelligence apparatus.

They died in a ferocious gunbattle in the northern city of Mosul after US troops were tipped off by the man who was hiding them in his house, recalled a neighbour, Shaher al-Khazradji. "The fighting lasted four hours then US soldiers pulled out Uday's body (by the feet), while the other bodies were covered and removed," he said. One of their bodyguards was also killed. Hours later, the US military destroyed the two-storey building, and today nothing has been built in its place.

Uday, 39, and Qusay, 37, were the only two of 55 leaders of Saddam's regime to die in battle. Al-Khazradji had bitter words for the man who gave away Uday and Qusay's whereabouts because he aided US troops. "The prostitutes of Mosul have more honor than him," he said. But 43-year-old Khaled al-Naimi said Iraq now has greater concerns. "Uday and Qusay, that's the past. Today we don't have water, electricity or infrastructure in our third year of occupation. Their deaths don't mean anything. This country doesn't belong to them. It belongs to all Iraqis."

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