BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 18:55 GMT
Witnesses name Saddam spy chief
Barzan al-Tikriti in court on Wednesday
Barzan al-Tikriti vehemently rejected the accusations
Two witnesses in the trial of Saddam Hussein have directly implicated his half-brother and spy chief in torture.

"When I was being tortured, Barzan [al-Tikriti] was sitting and eating grapes," an anonymous witness told the court. "I wished for death."

Saddam Hussein and Barzan al-Tikriti are being tried with six others for the massacre of 148 Shia villagers in 1982.

All deny the charges, and Saddam Hussein listened impassively as two witnesses testified on Wednesday.

One, who remained anonymous, said he had been held at intelligence headquarters for 17 days and tortured three times in the wake of a failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein in the village of Dujail.

But he said he was never asked about the assassination attempt, only about his support for the Shia religious Dawa movement, which was banned at the time.

I saw my brother being tortured in front of my eyes
Ali Mohammed Hussan
al-Haydari, witness
After his interrogations at intelligence headquarters, he was held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison for over a year, then banished to the desert.

He was later allowed to return home, but was once again taken into custody and left in solitary confinement.

Finally, hearing interrogation taking place next door, he cried out: "For God's sake, if you are going to execute me, take me out and execute me!"

Barzan al-Tikriti later began shouting at the judge, saying he was a politician, not criminal.

"My hand is clean," he said, holding it up.

Few of the dozen witnesses who have testified so far have implicated members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle by name.

Prayer request

Saddam Hussein was more co-operative as his trial resumed than he had been in previous appearances, interrupting rarely - once to ask for time to pray.

Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants on trial in Baghdad

The judge denied him a break, but the former leader appeared to pray anyway, turning his chair to face Mecca for a few minutes.

But later in the day, he made a lengthy intervention, during which he claimed he had been tortured by the Americans.

The US embassy in Baghdad denied the charge.

Barzan al-Tikriti repeatedly disrupted the proceedings.

He interrupted a witness to call him a dog and his dead brothers rotting dogs.

Guards made moves to remove the unruly defendant, but the judge allowed him to stay.

The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson said Barzan al-Tikriti had learned the ways of the court well, and was effectively poking holes in the prosecution.

Wednesday's court session was the first since millions of Iraqis voted in elections last week.

Details of torture

In the morning, the court heard from a man who said his entire family of 43 was rounded up and tortured after the failed attempt to kill Saddam Hussein in 1982.

Saddam Hussein interrupted as the witness, Ali Mohammed Hussan al-Haydari, began giving testimony.

Later, though, the former Iraqi leader sat quietly as the witness described how some of his brothers were shot by security forces, and he and his family were taken to Baath Party headquarters.

Saddam's trial cannot be fair, not when he is being tried by a kangaroo court
Mwila Munkonge, Lusaka, Zambia

"I saw my brother being tortured in front of my eyes," said Mr Haydari, who was then 14 years old.

"I was terrified. They would take one of us away and he would return in a sheet, dripping in blood."

He said guards administered electric shocks to prisoners and dripped hot plastic onto their skins.

And he said Barzan al-Tikriti had kicked him while he was in prison.

The defendant denied the accusation.

Several of the defendants questioned Mr Haydari about his evidence, but the judge frequently had to tell them to direct their questions through him, or to stick to the point.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific