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Testy Hussein Seen on Video Facing Iraqi Tribunal Judge

Friday, July 22, 2005

BAGHDAD, July 21 -- A combative Saddam Hussein was shown on videotape Thursday, facing an Iraqi special tribunal judge, listening to charges against him and protesting that the proceedings were illegitimate.

The nature of the hearing broadcast on al-Arabiya television was not clear.

The former dictator is due to be apprised of formal charges arising from a recently completed investigation into a 1982 massacre in the Shiite Muslim town of Dujail, but charges listed by the judge in Thursday's video did not appear connected with that case.

Hussein has been in U.S. custody for 19 months, since his capture in December 2003.

In one exchange, Hussein said to the judge: "I am detained, yes. It is a game, and you will discover it. They say, 'You are detained by the new Iraqi government,' which was appointed by the Americans."

When the judge, who was not identified, countered, "No, the people appointed it," Hussein replied: "No. You are a man of law and understand."

At another juncture, Hussein read some court papers and asked: "When did I see the lawyer?" An off-camera voice replied, "We gave him a chance to see you."

Hussein replied in his usual blunt tone: "Is this how the lawyer works? The defendant doesn't see his lawyer until he is in the session? And doesn't know that there is an investigating session until he arrives to the session?"

-- Naseer Nouri and Omar Fekeiki

© 2005 The Washington Post Company