'Don't hang me like common crook'
A NOTICEABLY thinner but still combative Saddam Hussein yesterday said he would prefer to die by firing squad than hang "like a common criminal", as he made his final scheduled appearance at his trial until a verdict is delivered.
Saddam, 69, was on hunger strike for 17 days until Sunday when he was taken to hospital and fed through a tube; a court source said he had relented on his starvation vow yesterday. "Saddam ate beef, rice and cola with bread which he brought from hospital," the source said.
A verdict in the trial is expected next month and the prosecution has asked for the death penalty for Saddam and two of the other seven defendants for their role in the deaths of Shiite Muslims in a crackdown after a 1982 assassination attempt against the Iraqi dictator in Dujail.
Saddam, dressed in a white shirt and dark jacket, said he had been taken by the Americans against his will from hospital to hear his court-appointed lawyer read a final summing-up, in which he argued that prosecution witnesses and documents had failed to link him to any of the atrocities in Dujail.
But an unimpressed Saddam branded the lawyer his "enemy" and claimed the summation was drafted by foreigners whom he has accused of manipulating the trial since it began last October.
He went on to make a rambling statement, which was often interrupted by the chief judge, Raouf Abdel-Rahman.
"I ask you, being an Iraqi person, that if you reach a verdict of death, execution, remember that I am a military man and should be killed by firing squad and not by hanging as a common criminal," Saddam, who never served in the ranks but appointed himself as a general after taking power in 1979, told the judge.
That brought a sharp rebuke from Mr Abdel-Rahman, who reminded Saddam that the five judges had not finished the trial, much less decided on a verdict.
He also challenged Saddam's assertion that he had been brought to court against his will. "You were not brought here against your will," the judge said. "Here's the medical report and it indicates that you are in good shape."
"I didn't say I was ill," Saddam snapped back. "I was on a hunger strike."
At one stage, after arguing with the judge, Saddam pointed his finger defiantly and barked: "A thousand like you would not even terrify my finger."
Referring to the US, he said: "The invaders only understand the language of the gun. I am in prison but the knights outside will liberate the country."
During one outburst, the judge accused him of inciting violence against Iraqis.
"I am inciting the killing of Americans and invaders, not the killing of Iraqis," Saddam responded. "I am Saddam Hussein. I call on Iraqis to be in harmony and work on evicting the invaders."
Mr Abdel-Rahman asked if that were true, why insurgents were killing more Iraqi civilians than US soldiers. "Why are they attacking Iraqis in coffee shops and markets? Why don't they go detonate themselves among Americans?"
Saddam snapped: "This case is not worth the urine of an Iraqi child."
The court was adjourned until today when Saddam will have the right to speak again. If he is convicted, an appeal is automatic and it is unlikely the sentence will be carried out until other cases against him are heard. He is due to stand trial next month over his role in a bloody crackdown on the Kurds in the 1980s.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west