Saddam claims ill-treatment as court hears of Shi’ite’s torture

SADDAM HUSSEIN accused his American captors of torturing him, claiming at his trial yesterday that he had been beaten “everywhere on my body”.

A Shi’ite witness, meanwhile, testified that the former Iraqi leader’s agents had tortured people by ripping off their skin.

The trial’s chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Mousawi, said he would investigate and added that Saddam would be transferred into the custody of Iraqi troops, if he was deemed to have been abused by the American-led multi-national forces.

“I want to say here, yes, we have been beaten by the Americans and we have been tortured,” Saddam responded, before gesturing towards his seven co-defendants, “one by one”.

Launching into an extended outburst after sitting quietly through several hours of testimony, Saddam said he’d been beaten “everywhere on my body. The marks are still there”.

During the outburst, Saddam stood in the fenced-in defendant’s area and occasionally jabbed his finger towards the judge and prosecutor. He refuted witness statements and complained at length about the conditions of his detention.

The former Iraqi leader also told the court that he knew the name of the person who betrayed his hiding place when US forces found him in December 2003.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for crimes arising from the death of more than 140 Shi’ites after a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

The prosecution’s first witness yesterday was a man who testified about killings and torture in Dujail following the assassination attempt.

Ali Hassan Mohammed al-Haidari, who was 14 in 1982, started off by quoting from the Koran, the Islamic holy book, about how evil would be defeated.

Al-Haidari, whose brother was the first witness at Saddam’s trial, testified that seven of his brothers were executed by Saddam’s regime and their bodies have not been found.

The witness said that he and other residents from Dujail - including family members - were taken to Baghdad and thrown into a security services prison, where people from “nine to 90” were held.

Blood poured from head wounds and skin was pale from electric shocks, he testified. Security officials would drip melted plastic hoses on detainees, only to pull it off after it cooled, tearing skin off with it, he said.

“I cannot express all that suffering and pain we faced in the 70 days inside,” he said.

At one point when al-Haidari referred to Saddam by name, the former leader interrupted, saying, “Saddam who?” implying that the proper respect hadn’t been shown.

Two witnesses later testified from behind a curtain.

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