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Saddam's outbursts well-received by some

OMAR SINAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

saddam-dour.jpeg

Iraqi demonstrators hold pictures of Saddam Hussein during a pro Saddam rally in al-Dour city, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 5, 2005. Saddam Hussein told the judge at his trial Monday that "I am not afraid of execution" during a chaotic court session in which the first witness took the stand and testified that the former president's agents carried out random arrests, torture and killings. (AP Photo / Hameed Rasheed)

BAGHDAD, Dec 5, 2005 -- Watching the Saddam Hussein trial at home on television, Jinan Mushrif said she got chills of pride Monday when she saw the ousted leader and a co-defendant chant, "Long live Iraq, long live the Arab state."

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

Saddam's repeated outbursts at the third session of his trial on charges of mass murder found a receptive audience among some Sunni Arabs, tapping 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.

Mushrif's son, Ziyad Tariq, stayed home from work at his auto parts shop to watch the trial. He believes the trial is a sham intended to boost support among followers of the Shiite leadership.

The trial is just "a battle of talk, in which no one cares about Iraqis. They just want to fulfill their own objectives," he said.

His suspicions only increased when the first prosecution witness described a wave of arrests and torture in the Shiite town of Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam.

"Did you see this guy, with his Iranian accent?" the 27-year-old Tariq shouted to his mother. "He is wearing a suit without a tie, just like the Persians."

Many Sunnis accuse the Shiite government of being influenced by neighboring Iran and of allowing Iranians to infiltrate Iraq.

Throughout the session, Saddam and his lawyers insisted the court did not have the authority to try the former regime's leaders. Saddam and seven co-defendants face a possible death sentence if found guilty in the 1982 massacre in Dujail, in which more than 140 Shiites were killed.

It was a defense tailor-made to appeal to Sunni Arabs, but not all were impressed.

Qassem Abdul Razzaq, a 66-year-old lawyer, said the chief judge - Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd - was not firm enough in preventing Saddam's outbursts.

"He should be putting some restrictions for the defendants and their team," he said. The session only boosted Saddam's morale, he said. "He is stronger and even looked healthier."

Another Sunni, Mohammed Omar, a 35-year-old unemployed father of two, accused the government of being more concerned with convicting Saddam than with fixing the problems Iraqis face every day - violence, shattered infrastructure, unemployment.

"Maybe Saddam did oppress those who opposed him," Omar said. "But for every Iraqi, deep inside, he looks like the strongman we need."


:: Article nr. 18473 sent on 06-dec-2005 01:53 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=18473

Link: seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1107AP_Iraq_Saddam_Trial_Reaction.html



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