Writing backs up Saddam’s assent

By Sinan Salaheddin The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Handwriting experts confirmed Saddam Hussein’s signatures on two more key documents in the ousted Iraqi leader’s trial – one approving death sentences for 148 Shiites, the other ordering confiscation of farmlands, the judge said yesterday.

Dressed in his black suit, Saddam was unusually silent throughout the three-hour session. But his half-brother and co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim angrily rejected the experts’ report as biased.

Defense lawyers demanded a neutral, international panel of experts be formed to look at documents presented by the prosecution that allegedly were signed by Saddam or the other seven defendants.

Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman did not rule on the demand for international experts, but he appeared dismissive of it and ordered Iraqi experts to continue examining remaining documents for the next session, scheduled for Monday.

Saddam and the former officials from his regime are on trial for the deaths of the 148 Shiites and the imprisonment of hundreds of others in a crackdown following an assassination attempt against Saddam in the mainly Shiite town of Dujail in 1982.