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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Aziz testifies for Saddam defence
Tariq Aziz appears in court, 24 May
Mr Aziz appeared in court looking pale and wearing pyjamas
Former Iraqi Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has been testifying for the defence at the trial of ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

Saddam and seven others are on trial over the deaths of 148 men after a 1982 assassination attempt on the ex-leader.

Mr Aziz, who is not on trial, said none of the defendants were guilty "because they punished those who tried to assassinate the head of state".

The trial has now been adjourned until 29 May.

'Colleague and comrade'

Mr Aziz, once the international face of the Iraqi regime, appeared in court looking pale and wearing pyjamas.

The president of the state in any country, if faced with an assassination attempt, should take procedures to punish those who conduct and help this operation
Tariq Aziz

He has complained of ill health and has been demanding that he be temporarily released from US custody to seek medical treatment.

Although not involved in the deaths of the 148 Shia men in Dujail, Mr Aziz said: "The Dujail case is part of a chain of assassination operations against officials and I am one of the victims."

He added: "The president of the state in any country, if faced with an assassination attempt, should take procedures to punish those who conduct and help this operation.

"According to the law, people who support this assassination can also be convicted."

Mr Aziz said he was testifying on behalf of Saddam Hussein, and also the former president's half brother and former head of intelligence Barzan al-Tikriti and former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan.

"Saddam is my colleague and comrade for decades, and Barzan is my brother and my friend and he is not responsible about Dujail's events," Mr Aziz said.

Heated exchange

Also testifying on Wednesday was Saddam Hussein's director of personal security, Abed Hamid Mahmud.

He gave an account of the assassination attempt in 1982, saying conspirators had marked Saddam Hussein's car for attack by using blood from sacrificed sheep.

Saddam Hussein
"I am Saddam Hussein, your president, and you did elect me"

Mr Mahmud said a radio set had been found capable of contacting other countries and this showed Iran was "obviously" involved in the attack.

The early part of Wednesday's session was marked with a familiar heated exchange between chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman and Saddam Hussein and Barzan al-Tikriti.

The latter accused the judge of "insulting a woman" by throwing out defence lawyer Bushra al-Khalil in the previous session.

"Sit down. If you continue with this I'll throw you out," the judge told Barzan al-Tikriti.

Saddam Hussein added: "Do you want to shut people's mouths this way?"

"Quiet. You are a defendant," the judge shouted.

"I am Saddam Hussein, your president, and you did elect me," the former leader shouted back.

The defence case, which began last week is expected to take some weeks.


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Watch Tariq Aziz testify



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