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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 19:41 GMT
Evidence emerges in Saddam trial
Saddam Hussein in court
Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants deny all the charges
Despite the theatrics which have dominated Saddam Hussein's trial so far, a steady trickle of evidence has emerged.

In the four months since proceedings began, prosecutors have brought more than 20 witnesses to the Baghdad courtroom.

Some have given gruelling witness accounts of torture at the hands of the Iraqi security forces.

Others - former officials under Saddam Hussein's regime - have claimed they were brought to the court against their will and had no evidence to offer.

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants have mounted a vocal self-defence, questioned the legitimacy of the court and walked out of proceedings several times.

All have pleaded not guilty to charges of ordering the killing of 148 Shias from the village of Dujail in 1982.

'Mincing machine'

One witness, Waddah al-Sheikh, whose testimony was taped before his death from cancer, told the court how 400 people were rounded up in Dujail following a failed assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein.

The operation was ordered by Saddam Hussein's co-defendant and half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, he said, and the former leader's personal bodyguards took part in the killing.

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed in court, with Saddam Hussein visible in the background
Ahmed Hassan Mohammed detailed killings by Iraqi security services

Another witness, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed, gave a moving account of torture inflicted by the Iraqi security services - often on women and children.

He detailed killings and told how the Iraqi forces' torture equipment included a mincing machine sometimes fed with living human bodies.

Other witnesses have been too scared to reveal their identities and have testified from behind screens or with distorted voices. Several have told of seeing family members tortured before their eyes.

One woman said she had been forced to take off her clothes by a security agent, beaten and then tortured with electric shocks. She was then held in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison for four years.

She admitted there was nothing directly to pin blame on the defendants, but said Saddam Hussein was responsible because he was running the country.

'Eating grapes'

Another told of beatings in Baghdad intelligence prison. He was blindfolded but had been told Barzan al-Tikriti was present.

Man holding photo of Dujail victim
Some 148 people are believed to have been killed in Dujail

Two more witnesses gave accounts of torture and said Dujail had been attacked by helicopter gunships following the assassination attempt.

One said his entire family of 43 had been rounded up and tortured by Iraqi security services.

The second said that while he was being tortured, Barzan al-Tikriti "was sitting and eating grapes".

Another woman told how she was stripped naked, hung by her feet and kicked repeatedly in the chest by Barzan al-Tikriti, the then intelligence chief, after being arrested by security forces.

'No memory'

Former aides to Saddam Hussein have also appeared in court - but have complained they were being forced to testify.

The ex-head of Saddam Hussein's office, Ahmed Khudayir, denied any memory of a document purported to contain his signature, which apparently showed Saddam Hussein had ratified killings in Dujail.

Former intelligence officer Fadil Mohammed al-Azzawi told the court he had only signed a witness statement because he had not had his glasses and could not read the paper.

However, Hamed Youssef Hamadi, a former culture minister and personal aide to Saddam Hussein, did say handwriting on a document recommending rewards for officials for their part in the Dujail arrests "looks like President Saddam's".

The trial has now been adjourned for a fortnight - time for both prosecution and defence to reflect on the evidence presented so far.



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