'What law, what resolution formed this court?'

The Independent

2 July 2004

The following is an edited transcript of the translators' words as Saddam Hussein answered questions from judge Ra'id Juhi. Some parts of the conversation are missing, as the microphone failed to pick up everything the translators said

The Judge opened proceedings by asking Saddam for his name:

SADDAM: ...Hussein Majid, the president of the Republic of Iraq.

The judge then asks his date of birth

SADDAM: 1937.

JUDGE: Profession? Former president of the Republic of Iraq?

SADDAM: No, present. Current. It's the will of the people.

JUDGE: The head of the Baath Party that is dissolved, defunct. Former commander and chief of the army. Residence is Iraq. Your mother's name?

SADDAM: Sobha. You also have to introduce yourself to me

JUDGE: Mr Saddam, I am the investigative judge of the central court of Iraq.

SADDAM: So that I have to know, you are an investigative judge of the central court of Iraq? What resolution, what law formed this court?

The judge's response could not be heard.

SADDAM: Oh, the coalition forces? So you are an Iraqi that - you are representing the occupying forces?

JUDGE: No, I'm an Iraqi representing Iraq.

SADDAM: But you are...

JUDGE: I was appointed by a presidential decree under the former regime.

SADDAM: So you are reiterating that every Iraqi should respect the Iraqi law. So the law that was instituted before represents the will of the people, right?

JUDGE: Yes, God willing.

SADDAM: So you should not work under the jurisdiction of the coalition forces.

JUDGE: This is an important point. I am a judge. In the former regime, I respect the judges. And I am resuming and continuing my work.

SADDAM: So, please let me - I'm not complicating matters. Are you a judge? You are a judge? And judges, they value the law. And they rule by the law, right? Right? Right is a relative issue. For us, right is our heritage in the Koran, sharia, right? I am not talking about Saddam Hussein, whether he was a citizen or in other capacities. I'm not holding fast to my position, but to respect the will of the people that decided to choose Saddam Hussein as the leader of the revolution. Therefore, when I say president of the Republic of Iraq, it's not a formality or a holding fast to a position, but rather to reiterate to the Iraqi people that I respect its will.

JUDGE: If there is evidence, then I'll defer it to a court of jurisdiction.

SADDAM: Let me understand something. Who is the defendant? Any defendant when he comes to a court, before that there should be investigation.

JUDGE: I'm investigating, interrogating you. Second, the president is a profession, is a position, is a deputy of the society. That's true. And originally, inherently, he's a citizen. And every citizen, according to the law in the constitution, if this person violates a law has to come before the law. And that law you know more than I do. So the crimes, the charges: intended killing by using chemical weapons in Halabjah.

SADDAM: No.

JUDGE: Second, intended killing of a great number of Iraqis in 1983. Three, intended killing of a number of members of political parties without trials. Fourth, intended killing of many of the Iraqi religious people. Fifth, intended killing of many Iraqis in Anfal without any evidence against it.

Details of the sixth charge are not picked up

JUDGE: The seventh charge was against Saddam Hussein as president of the republic and the commander-in-chief of the army. And the army went to Kuwait.

SADDAM: Even though this was not an invasion. Will the law judge Saddam Hussein because he defends Iraq?

Saddam refers to Kuwaitis as "dogs".

JUDGE: You are in a legal hearing and we will not allow you to speak in any way that is disrespectful to this court.

SADDAM: Then in the formal capacity, is it permissible to charge an official title? And the person is to be dealt with in violation of the guarantees that are afforded by the constitution. This is the law that you're using to use against me now.

JUDGE: I would like you to sign these documents formally, and this will go into the record. Answer to those charges. This is investigation. Answer. If you read the minutes, we say that we postpone the investigation.

SADDAM: Then please allow me not to sign anything until the lawyers are present.

JUDGE: That is fine. But this is your...

SADDAM: I speak for myself.

JUDGE: Yes, as a citizen you have the right. But the guarantees you have to sign because these were read to you, recited to you.

SADDAM: Anyway, why are you worried? I will come again before you with the presence of the lawyers, and you will be giving me all of these documents again. So why should we rush any action now and make mistakes because of rushed and hasty decisions or actions? JUDGE: No, this is not a hasty decision-making now. I'm just investigating. And we need to conclude and seal the minutes.

SADDAM: No, I will sign when the lawyers are present.

JUDGE: Then you can leave.

SADDAM: Finished?

JUDGE: Yes.

THE CHARGES THE DICTATOR FACES

Invading Kuwait, 1990

On 2 August 1990, 100,000 Iraqis invaded Kuwait. Agovernment was set up and Saddam threatened to turn Kuwait City into a "graveyard" if any country dared challenge the takeover by force.

Suppressing Kurdish and Shia uprisings, 1991

After the Gulf war, Saddam's government seemed on the verge of collapse. Shias and Kurds in the north revolted, killing many Sunni Arabs. Saddam's regime responded with a bloody crackdown.

Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, 1987-88

The Anfal (spoils of war) campaign was the Iraqi government's genocidal campaignto reassert control over Kurdish areas. It involved mass summary executions.

Gassing Kurdish villagers in Halabja, 1988

Halabja was a town of 50,000 people, near the Iranian border. It was target of chemical attacks ordered by Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid - Chemical Ali.

Killing political activists

A UN report in 1998 stated that Iraq had executed at least 1,500 people during the previous year.

Killing thousands of the Kurdish Barzani clan, 1983

Iraqi security forces killed 8,000 Barzani men and boys in revenge for Kurdish collusion with Iranian forces in July 1983.

Sam Inglesby