Video upset for Saddam prosecution

The court trying Saddam Hussein has allowed two videos to be shown as defence evidence, one of which it claims is of a prosecution witness contradicting his sworn testimony.

    Saddam's lawyers asked for the case to be suspended

    The first video showed Saddam speaking in al-Dujail - he is on trial for crimes against humanity there - promising residents, many of whom had not received compensation for confiscated land,

    a better lifestyle that "suits them".



    The second showed a celebration on July 7, 2004, commemorating an assassination attempt against Saddam in al-Dujail in 1982.


    The footage showed Ali al-Haidari, a prosecution witness who testified in December that there was no assassination attempt to justify the crackdown against the villagers. He told the court that shots fired on the day were to celebrate Saddam's visit.


    Hailing the attackers

    he video showed the witness giving a speech hailing those "heroes" who had tried to assassinate the "tyrant Saddam Hussein, the biggest tyrant in modern history".


    Jaafar al-Musawi, the general
    prosecutor, was put on the spot

    Defence lawyers called for al-Haidari, one of the few witnesses who did not appear anonymously, to be prosecuted for perjury.


    The defence team asked the court to suspend the whole trial and recheck all evidence presented by Jaafar al-Musawi, the general prosecutor, whom they accused of fabricating the case.


    The defence showed a video of a man said to be al-Musawi attending the celebration in al-Dujail in 2004.


    They said he had visited to offer cash for testimony and to coach witnesses.


    They also claimed that many of those people said to have been executed after the assassination attempt were still alive.


    Al-Musawi fended off the allegation that he attended the 2004 ceremony in Dujail at which al-Haidari spoke.


    He said the man in the video was one of the organisers, Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Bandar.


    Bandar was brought into the court on Wednesday, standing next to al-Musawi, and the two men closely resembled each other. Bandar told the court he was the one in the video.


    One witness, who was a teenager in al-Dujail at the time, said: "The prosecutor said they were executed but I am telling you I ate with them some time ago."


    He said that 23 of them were alive.


    Al-Musawi, who said on Tuesday that he had never been to the town, denied that it was him in the video. He said it was a member of the Shia al-Dawa party - the party of Nuri al-Maliki, who is now prime minister.


    The latest defence testimony is the most direct attack yet on the prosecution case against Saddam and his seven co-defendants.


    Barzan kicked out


    For a second time since the trial opened in October 2005,  the judge ordered Saddam's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, out of  the court after they argued over the judge's ethnic origins.


    "I have no complex against the Kurds, some of my best friends are Kurds," Barzan said during a long speech.


    A visibly irate judge Abd al-Rahman threw Barzan, the former intelligence chief, out of the court.


    "Stop referring to me as a Kurd," retorted the judge as he  ordered him out of the courtroom. "Every word he utters is like a poisoned knife directed against me."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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