Former Iraq deputy PM testifies for Saddam

[JURIST] Tariq Aziz [BBC profile], the former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister under Saddam Hussein's regime, testified on behalf of Hussein Wednesday at the Iraqi High Criminal Court [official website], where Hussein and seven co-defendants are on trial [JURIST news archive] for the crackdown against Shiites in Dujail following an assassination attempt in 1982, including the execution of 148 villagers. Aziz was the first witness to testify in favor of Hussein. He accused the current ruling party of trying to kill Hussein in the 1980s and told the court that the current government should be on trial instead of Hussein's toppled government. Aziz also stated that Hussein's seven co-defendants never mentioned the Dujail murders to him and that "no one is guilty of anything." Aziz, who surrendered to US forces in 2003, is currently being held in Baghdad pending possible trial by the Iraqi High Criminal Court. His lawyers have said that he is in very poor health and have requested [JURIST report] that he be allowed to seek medical treatment in Russia.

Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] warned everyone in the courtroom to act in a respectful manner as proceedings began Wednesday. Monday's proceedings caused commotion as Abdel-Rahman forcibly removed [JURIST report] Bushra Kahlil, Hussein's only female lawyer, from the courtroom for arguing with the judge. Reuters has more. CNN has additional coverage.

 

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