Evidence fought in Saddam trial

By Sinan Salaheddin The Associated Press

BAGHDAD – Saddam Hussein’s lawyer Monday challenged findings of handwriting experts verifying the former president’s signature on documents linked to a crackdown on Shiites, and demanded a review by specialists from anywhere except Iran or Israel.

The report from handwriting experts said a signature on a document approving rewards for intelligence agents involved in the crackdown in the 1980s was Saddam’s, prosecutors said, reading from the report.

Saddam’s lawyer Khamis al-Obaidi disputed the experts’ finding and insisted that the documents be analyzed by international experts except those from Iran because of “its obvious hostility against Arabs and Islam.”

“And Israel,” shouted Saddam, dressed in a black suit and white shirt. “Because we don’t consider Israel a state, you didn’t mention it. But the international community recognizes Israel as a state so you must mention Israel.”

Iraq and Iran fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, and Saddam, a Sunni Arab, had accused Iraqi Shiite militants of supporting Shiite-dominated Iran.

After hearing the report, Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman adjourned the court until today to give the experts time to look at more documents.

In a previous session, Saddam had refused to confirm or deny his signature, and some of his seven co-defendants had said their alleged signatures on other documents were forgeries.

Saddam and the others are on trial for the deaths of 148 Shiites and the imprisonment and torture of others after a 1982 assassination attempt against the former Iraqi leader in the Shiite town of Dujail. The defendants face possible execution by hanging if convicted.

In their report, the handwriting experts said Saddam and his top co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam’s half brother and former head of the Mukhabarat intelligence agency, refused to give samples of their handwriting for comparison.

So the experts compared the signatures to other documents not related to the case, the report said.

The experts confirmed Ibrahim’s signatures on several documents connected to the crackdown, the report said. Among them was a memo requesting the rewards for six Mukhabarat officers involved in the crackdown, which Saddam allegedly approved. Another listed Dujail families whose farmlands were to be razed in retaliation for the incident.