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Defiant Saddam pleads innocent to murder
Updated: 2005-10-19 20:20

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein pleaded innocent to charges including pre-meditated murder and torture and argued with the judges Wednesday, challenging the legitimacy of the court as his first trial for alleged atrocities by his toppled regime opened Wednesday in the former headquarters of his Baath Party.

Eman, the wife of Adnan Fadil al-Saadi, unseen, who's brother Sadeeq Fadil was allegedly executed in 1982 for being a member of an opposition party, covers her face while watching Saddam Hussein's trial on television in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2005. Saddam Hussein went on trial Wednesday for alleged crimes against fellow Iraqis, turning immediately argumentatitve and challenging the legitimacy of the court as he appeared before a five-judge tribunal in the former headquarters of his Baath Party two years after his capture.[AP]

Saddam and seven former members of his regime face could face the death penalty if convicted over the 1982 massacre of nearly 150 Shiites in the town of Dujail.

After presiding judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd, read the defendants their rights and the charges against them — which also include forced expulsions and illegal imprisonment — he asked each for their plea. He started with the ousted dictator, saying "Mr. Saddam, go ahead. Are you guilty or innocent?"

Saddam replied quietly, "I said what I said. I am not guilty," referring to his arguments earlier in the session. Amin read out the plea, "Innocent."

The session was stormy, with Saddam arguing with judges. When a break was called, Saddam stood, smiling, asked to step of the room, but when two guards tried to grab him arms to escort him out, he angrily shook them off. They tried to grab him again, and Saddam struggled to get free, being shaken during a shoving match that lasted about a minute as they yelled at each other.

It ended with Saddam getting his way, and he was allowed to walk independently, with the two guards behind him, out of the room for the break.

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