Witness describes shocks, beatings as Saddam trial continues

A WOMAN testified yesterday from behind a screen that she was stripped and tortured with beatings and electric shocks by Saddam Hussein’s agents in the trial of the former president and seven lieutenants.

In contrast to the day before, when he interrupted and berated male witnesses, Saddam sat stone-faced and silent, taking notes on a pad of paper, as the woman, known only as Witness A, told the court how she and dozens of other families from the town of Dujail were arrested in a crackdown after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam.

Two other witnesses - a man and a woman - testified yesterday, all with their identities concealed.

“I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and beating me,” Witness A said of Wadah al-Sheik, an Iraqi intelligence officer who died of cancer last month.

Several times, the woman - hidden behind a light blue curtain - broke down. “God is great. Oh, my Lord!” she moaned, her voice electronically deepened and distorted.

She strongly suggested that she had been raped, but did not say so outright. When Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin asked her about the “assault”, she said: “I was beaten up and tortured by electrical shocks.”

The witness, who was 16 at the time of her arrest, repeated that she had been ordered to undress.

“They made me put my legs up. They were more than one, as if I were their banquet, maybe more than five people, all of them are officers,” she said.

“Is that what happens to the virtuous woman that Saddam speaks about?” she wept, prompting the judge to advise her to stick to the facts.

When asked by the judge which of the defendants she wanted to accuse, Witness A identified Saddam.

“When so many people are jailed and tortured, who takes such a decision?” she said.

She later quoted a security officer as telling her: “You should thank your God because you are here in the Intelligence Centre. If you were in the directorate of security, no woman would remain virgin.”

Nevertheless, she also said that many fellow female detainees lost their virginity to security guards.

Saddam and the others are on trial for the killing of more than 140 Shi’ites in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad and could be hanged if convicted.

Saddam had several outbursts later in the trial, and at the end of the day’s long hearings, he shouted at the judge: “I will not return, I will not come to an unjust court! Go to Hell!”

The outburst came after an argument erupted between the judges and defence lawyers over when the next session would be held.

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