Saddam writes Iraqi judge, saying he will stop attending his Kurdish genocide trial

Tuesday, December 5th 2006, 10:24 am

By: News On 6

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Saddam Hussein wrote the chief judge in his Kurdish genocide trial to tell him that he no longer wants to attend the hearings _ whatever the consequences, according to a letter released Tuesday by former Iraqi leader's lawyers.

In a handwritten Arabic statement made available to The Associated Press, Saddam cited what he claimed were repeated ``insults'' by chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa and prosecutors trying him for his role in the 1987-88 military campaign, code-named Operation Anfal.

``I wasn't given the chance to speak when I tried to clarify the truth,'' Saddam wrote in the one-page letter dated Monday. He said he wanted to respond to the prosecution's allegation that he had stashed away $10 billion.

In Monday's hearing, an unnamed prosecutor asked al-Oreibi to freeze the $10 billion, saying it belonged to the former regime and had been deposited in foreign bank accounts. ``We ask the court to put its hand on the money to secure the rights of the victims,'' the prosecutor said.

The judge did not respond and the hearing adjourned until Wednesday to hear more evidence.

The authenticity of Saddam's letter, sent out by his lawyers, could not immediately be verified. But it used language similar to what Saddam had often used in other statements, as well as in his courtroom speeches.

That included his use of the title: ``President of the republic and the commander in chief of the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) armed forces'' _ the phrase he used to end Tuesday's letter.

Elsewhere in the letter, he wrote: ``I feel disgusted. ... I will not accept being offended continuously by you and others.''

He goes on to say: ``Saddam, who taught pride and dignity to many people, refuses to attend (the trial) and be subjected to insult by agents and their followers ... Therefore, I ask to be relieved from attending the (court) hearings in this new comedy and you can do whatever you want,'' he wrote.

Saddam and six co-defendants face the possibility of execution if convicted for Operation Anfal. The prosecution estimates that 180,000 Kurds were killed when Saddam's army allegedly destroyed hundreds of villages, killing or making homeless their residents in a scorched earth campaign against separatist guerrillas in Iraq's northern Kurdish area.

On Nov. 5, Saddam was convicted in a separate trial for the deaths of approximately 150 Shiite Muslims following an assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail in 1982. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

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