Saddam questioned over revenge killings

THE tribunal that will put Saddam Hussein on trial released a new video yesterday of the former dictator being questioned by magistrates about the killing of 50 Iraqis in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt in 1982.

The video from the Iraqi Special Tribunal showed a bearded Saddam wearing a dark-coloured jacket and white open-collared shirt being questioned by chief judge Raid Juhi. Four other members of Saddam’s administration also were shown in the video.

It was unclear when the video was made, and Saddam’s chief lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi, said he would have to see it before commenting. The tribunal said the lawyer was present during the questioning.

An announcement that accompanied the tape said Saddam was being questioned about crimes related to the execution of at least 50 Iraqis in 1982 in the Shi’ite town of Dujail, 80 kilometres north of Baghdad, in retaliation for the failed assassination attempt.

In violence yesterday, four suicide car bombings and other insurgent attacks killed 10 people, and at least 16 Iraqis were wounded after militants opened fire on authorities trying to evacuate the injured from one of the blasts.

The wave of attacks in Baghdad, Samarra and Tikrit came as radical anti-American Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met with the Russia ambassador and tribal chiefs from the insurgent hotbeds of Fallujah and Ramadi. Russia and al-Sadr fiercely opposed the war.

The new video also depicted Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former Republican Guard general, and Taher Tawfiq al-Ani, a senior Ba’ath Party official and adviser on Kurdish affairs. They were questioned concerning the 1987-88 Anfal campaign, a depopulation plan in which hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed or expelled from northern Iraq.

The two other men shown were Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti and Muzahim Sa’b Hassan al-Tikriti. The first was a special Republican Guard commander and Saddam’s cousin who was captured on July 23, 2003. He was No. 11 on the American list of most-wanted Iraqis. The other headed Iraq’s air defences under Saddam and was captured on April 23, 2003. He was 12th on the list.

They were questioned about the 1991 suppression of a Shi’ite uprising in southern Iraq.

The meeting between Mr al-Sadr and Russian Ambassador Vladimir Chamov in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf, south of the capital, seemed to be a sign of the cleric’s desire to return to active politics after going into isolation last fall following clashes between his militia and US troops.

Mr Al-Sadr has in recent weeks been trying to mediate between an influential Sunni Arab association and a Shi’ite militia that have traded accusations of targeting each other’s supporters and clerics.

“The meeting was in the framework of creating contacts between the Russian Embassy and the Iraqi parties and movements and we are pleased with the results of our talks,” Mr Chamov told reporters.

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