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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 10:15 GMT
Anger and exits at Saddam trial
By John Simpson
BBC World Affairs Editor, in Baghdad

Saddam in court
Several times Saddam's attempts to speak were ignored
The anger which has existed just below the surface on the two previous sessions of Saddam Hussein's trial over the past seven weeks boiled over this morning when Saddam's own legal team decided to walk out of the court.

Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother, stood up in the dock and shouted "Long live Iraq! Long live Arabs! Down with the dictators! Long live democracy!"

Saddam himself was standing and gesticulating too, but it was noticeable that the television coverage, controlled by an American company, did not show pictures of his half-brother's outburst. All the same, the sound was fully audible.

When the judge called for a brief recess to discuss the lawyers' walk-out, Saddam shouted: "Why don't you just execute us?"

How can this court be legitimate when it has been appointed by the Americans? Why don't you just execute us?
Saddam Hussein
But at that point the guards in the court closed the curtains in front of the press box, and the sound feed from the court was switched off.

The lawyers' dispute with the judges arises partly from their claim that the court is not legitimately established.

The senior judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, insisted that it was, and ruled that any complaints about the nature of the court must be presented in writing, not as part of the court proceedings.

Other issues were the exact role of the three foreign lawyers who are part of Saddam Hussein's team: the former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark, the former justice minister of Qatar, Najeeb al-Nuaimi, and a Jordanian, Issam al-Ghazzawi.

Language issue

Mr Clark stood at the defence lawyers' microphone for a long time, asking to read a brief statement, but the senior judge ignored him.

The judge also made it clear that the language of the court was Arabic and the implication seemed to be that Mr Clark would not be allowed to make speeches on behalf of his client through an interpreter.

The proceedings were noisy and at times remarkably confused, with four or more of the defence team shouting at the senior judge, the judge shouting back, and Saddam Hussein making his own angry comments from the dock.

"How can this court be legitimate when it has been appointed by the Americans?" he asked at one point.

During the previous two sessions Rizgar Mohammed Ali, as the senior judge, has gone to great lengths to allow the defence to make its points. He has also let Saddam Hussein say whatever he wanted, and has listened to him carefully.

This time it has been different. The defence was allowed little latitude, and when individual lawyers seemed to be demanding concessions in exchange for staying in the court, Judge Rizgar Mohammed Ali refused to agree.


On several occasions Saddam Hussein put his hand up in the dock to show that he wanted to speak, but he was ignored completely.

In the end, he was rather upstaged by his half-brother, Barzan, who ignored court procedure by standing up and shouting.

Saddam looked round at him, but then sat down quietly.

So the gloves are off in this trial and, given that the defence team made it clear before today's session began that they would do their best to challenge the proceedings, Judge Rizgar Mohammed Ali's refusal to give way to them may have been the only way to keep the trial on track.

See the angry scenes inside the courtroom

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