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Saddam witness accuses prosecutor of bribing him

Omar al-Ibadi and Hiba Moussa


May 31, 2006

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Defense attorneys for Saddam Hussein accused the prosecution on Wednesday of trying to buy a witness and putting someone on the stand who perjured himself.

Speaking from behind a curtain to hide his identity, a defense witness, who said he worked at a U.S. base, accused chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi of offering him money in 2004 to give false testimony.

"One day they took me to a room where I met someone and he said: 'What you are saying is not good for us or the Iraqi people. We want to have the tyrant Saddam executed'," said the witness of Moussawi and others.

"An officer threatened me and said if I speak out about this, he will kill me and my family. I watched the court on television at a later time and realized that Moussawi was the same guy."

"At the end of the meeting he gave me $500," the witness said. Moussawi denied this and asked the court to prosecute the witness.

The trial was later adjourned until June 5.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants are accused of a crackdown that led to the execution of 148 Shi'ite people from the town of Dujail following a failed assassination bid against him there in 1982.

The chief judge ordered one of Saddam's co-accused, his half brother Barzan al-Tikriti, removed from court on Wednesday after a heated exchange erupted between them.

"If your client keeps acting in such a way I will keep him in a cell with a microphone and television set. I will not accept him with such an attitude in the next session," Raouf Abdul Rahman told Barzan's lawyer.


The toppled president's defense attorneys also attempted to tear apart the testimony of key prosecution witness Ali al-Haidari by showing a video aired on Arabic television channel al-Arabiya on Tuesday they said proved perjury.

The defense team showed footage of his original testimony for the prosecution in which he said there was no assassination attempt on Saddam in Dujail and that shots were fired in the air to celebrate the former president's visit to the town.

A video was then shown of Haidari giving a speech in Dujail on July 8, 2004, during a celebration in which he said people from the "heroic" town tried to kill Saddam.

"It was a historical day in the life of this town when they tried to kill the worst tyrant ever known in history ... when this religious group wanted to save the Iraqi people from this tyrant," he said on the video.

The defense said another part of the tape aired by al-Arabiya and presented in court showed that Moussawi was among those celebrating in Dujail in the same group with Haidari.

The chief prosecutor denied this and brought in a man who looks like him, Abdul Razzaq al-Bandar, and said he was the person in the video.

A defense witness who was a member of a popular militia at the time of the assassination attempt on Saddam in Dujail said he found weapons hidden in orchards after the attack.

Several witnesses -- including two former interior ministers -- have so far taken the stand this week, testifying for Saddam, his half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bander.

If convicted, they face possible death by hanging.

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty, or like Saddam, were ruled to have so pleaded after contesting the U.S.-backed court's legitimacy.

:: Article nr. 23638 sent on 01-jun-2006 01:03 ECT


Link: news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060531/wl_nm/iraq_saddam_dc_11

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