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Transcript of Saddam proceeding

Saddam Hussein appears combative in his arraignment Thursday.
Saddam Hussein faced an Iraqi judge Thursday in a makeshift courtroom in Baghdad.

Seven preliminary charges were read against the former Iraqi leader.

Saddam was dressed in civilian clothes for his court appearance. Handcuffs and chains were removed once he was in the courtroom.

Saddam referred to the court proceeding as "theater" and said "the real criminal is Bush."

The court charged Saddam with invading Kuwait, suppressing the Shiite Muslim uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and killing members of political parties and religious leaders.

Saddam refused to sign court documents indicating he understood the court proceeding, noting that he wanted his attorney present.
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Saddam Hussein appears in an Iraqi court.

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Saddam Hussein
Justice and Rights

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appeared before a judge Thursday to hear seven preliminary charges outlined in an arrest warrant.

At times Saddam -- who insisted he remains president of Iraq -- acted as if he were still in command. He argued with the investigative judge, quibbling over legal points and principles and lecturing him about his responsibilities.

The two spoke in Arabic, and what follows is an English translation of the final part of Saddam's appearance. (The judge's name was not released for security reasons.)

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. ...

May I have clarification?

JUDGE: Go ahead, please.

SADDAM: 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?

JUDGE: [Off-mike comment]

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. You, as any other citizen, you have to answer to any accusation or charge, that's true. This is an arraignment, a charge. If it can be proven, then you will be convicted. If not, then everything is fine.

The judicial due process is to bring back rights. If there's evidence, you'll be convicted. If there's no evidence, you will not. Until now, you're accused before the judicial system. So according to that. ...

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. This is one.

No. 2, you summoned me to levy charges -- no, I -- you call it crimes.

JUDGE: The investigative 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.

This is not a court. This is investigation. This is investigation now. Let me clarify this point. Then I hope that you remember you are a judge empowered by the people. It doesn't really matter whether you convict me or not; that's not what's important. But what is important is that you remember that you're a judge. Then don't mention anything [about] occupying forces. This is not good.

Then judge in the name of people. Then that's good. Then judge in the name of people. This is the Iraqi way.

JUDGE: Mr. Saddam, this is an investigative process. ...

SADDAM: From the legal standpoint, you were notified that I have lawyers, right? Am I not supposed to meet with the lawyers before I come before you?

JUDGE: If you give me just 10 minutes, let's finish the formalities, and I'll come to that. Then if you wait, then you will see that you have rights that are guaranteed. OK. Go ahead.

According to the law, Mr. Saddam, the investigative judge has to give the defendant the charges that are levied against him. And then reading the rights of all the charges according to the law, Article 123, 124 and 125.

The first step is, these articles, were they not signed by Saddam Hussein? Yes, this is the law that was in '73. So then Saddam Hussein was representing the leadership and signed that law. So now you are using the law that Saddam signed against Saddam. Saddam was the people.

SADDAM: Please, the constitution mechanism -- I'm not a lawyer, but I understand -- I am originally a man of law. Is it allowed to call a president elected by the people and charge him according to a law that was enacted under his will and the will of the people?

There is some contradiction. No.

JUDGE: The judicial process -- let me answer this clarification -- first, I'm not deliberating a case against you, 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. 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. You have the right to defend and answer. These are the guarantees. Now we come to an important matter.

You will have heard the court read the crimes that you're charged -- or were attributed to the accused, Saddam Hussein. And you were told [about] the articles of the law that apply to those cases.

And the court has read to you the rights and the guarantees that any accused is entitled to, which includes the rights of defense and representation and also the right not to answer any question asked, and that will never be used as an evidence against the accused. And the court also presented to the accused the right to argue the evidence.

The accused requested to meet with defense lawyers that are his private defense lawyers to be present with him in the investigative sessions. And in light of that, the minutes were concluded, and the investigation is postponed until the accused is enabled to contact his representation, his lawyers, and another appointment for the next session will be decided.

Yes. The charges that were levied against Saddam Hussein -- go ahead. You should sign so that I can talk to -- OK. Let me sign.

(There was an audio gap.)

JUDGE: Allow me. 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?

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 Hussein is the president of the Republic of Iraq and the commander in chief of the armed forces that invaded Kuwait. So officially this is what it was.

SADDAM: Then in the formal capacity ... afforded by the constitution. This is the law that you're using to use against me now. This is the crux of the matter, Mr. Judge. Charges are levied because actions were taken in a system whose president was Saddam Hussein but without presidential guarantees.

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: [Off-mike]

JUDGE: No, no. This is part of the process.

SADDAM: No, this is not part of the process.

JUDGE: No, this is part of the process.

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?


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