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Saddam: 'I am not afraid of execution'
Updated: 2005-12-06 06:56

When Mohammed objected to some of Saddam's remarks, the former president snapped: "Do not interrupt me, son."

"If it's ever established that Saddam Hussein laid a hand on any Iraqi, then everything that witness said is correct," he said.

The hearing — only the third since the trial began Oct. 19 — began with the defense challenging the court's legal basis as well as security guarantees following the assassination of two of its members.

Clark tried to address the court on these issues, but Amin ruled that only Saddam's chief attorney, al-Dulaimi, could speak. That prompted the defense team to walk out despite a warning from the chief judge that he would appoint replacement attorneys.

"You are imposing lawyers on us," Saddam shouted, gesturing with one arm and cradling a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in the other. "They are imposed lawyers. The court is imposed by itself. We reject that."

When the judge explained that he was ruling in accordance with the law, Saddam snapped: "This is a law made by America and does not reflect Iraqi sovereignty."

After the walkout and a 90-minute recess to resolve the issue, the court reconvened and Amin allowed Clark and former Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi to speak on the questions of the legitimacy of the tribunal and safety of the lawyers.

Saddam's repeated outbursts found a receptive audience among some Sunni Arabs who watched on television. His shows of defiance tapped into Sunni resentment of the new order in Iraq, in which their once-ruling minority community is now dominated by the Shiite Muslim majority and the Kurds.

"These are the real men of Iraq, not those who hide behind their bodyguards," Jinan Mushrif, a 49-year-old Baghdad housewife, said with a laugh.

But not all were impressed. Qassem Abdul Razzaq, a 66-year-old lawyer, said the chief judge — Amin, a Kurd — was not firm enough in preventing Saddam's outbursts.

The judge "is trying to be more just than justice itself. He should be putting some restrictions for the defendants and their team," Razzaq said. The session only boosted Saddam's morale, he said. "He is stronger and even looked healthier."

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