Prosecutor's double testifies at Hussein trial

June 01, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Missing evidence, personal attacks and the appearance in court of the prosecutor's doppelganger were some of the dramatic moments yesterday in the Baghdad courtroom where former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants are being tried.

The eight defendants have been charged with crimes against humanity for the alleged detention, torture and execution of 148 people from the mainly Shiite Muslim village of Dujail after an assassination attempt against Hussein there in 1982. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

At times, the trial has seemed a theater of the absurd, with rambling diatribes and appeals to history from lawyers and defendants. Lately, exasperation and fatigue have dominated the courtroom.

Defense lawyers have in the past few sessions attempted to discredit prosecutor Jaafar Mousawi and question the integrity of the prosecution. Yesterday, the strategy seemed to backfire.

Defense lawyers had suggested, through witnesses and photos, that Mousawi had visited Dujail two years ago, celebrating the anniversary of the assassination attempt on Hussein. However, Mousawi's look-alike testified yesterday that he was the man shown in photos of the village party.

During yesterday's six-hour session, several new defense witnesses took the stand behind floor-length, blue curtains. But Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel Rahman gave little credence to key parts of their testimony.

Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, Hussein's half-brother and fellow defendant, stood up and said he had been told to testify against Hussein. After a heated exchange, the judge threw him out of court.

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