BAGHDAD (AP) – A female witness, testifying yesterday at Saddam Hussein’s trial, said she was stripped naked in prison, hung by her feet and kicked in the chest by the former Iraqi leader’s half brother.
The woman provided some of the most gripping testimony so far in the trial, which went ahead despite a boycott by Saddam and four other defendants, who demanded the removal of the chief judge.
Weeping several times during her testimony, the woman described being stripped naked, hung by her hands, beaten and given electric shocks.
Then, she told the court, Barzan Ibrahim – Saddam’s half brother and the top co-defendant in the trial – told guards to instead hang her from her feet, then he kicked her three times in the chest.
“I told him (Ibrahim), ‘For God’s sake, I’m a woman. Master, I have nothing to confess. Why are you doing this to me?'” said the woman, who spoke from behind a beige curtain to protect her identity.
The woman was one of five witnesses who took the stand during yesterday’s 4 1/2-hour session – all of whom were hidden behind the curtain.
The woman’s testimony directly implicated Ibrahim, Saddam’s one-time head of the Mukhabarat intelligence agency. She recounted her torture at the Mukhabarat’s Baghdad headquarters, where she said she and family members were taken after being arrested in a crackdown following a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite village of Dujail.
She said she was later taken to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. One day, she was driven back to the Mukhabarat headquarters for interrogation with her father, when guards threw a dead baby into the car and ordered it taken “to the Mukhabarat garage.”
“What crime have we all committed to go through this agony?” she asked, sobbing.
Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, who took over last week, pressed ahead with the proceedings yesterday at a rapid pace, taking advantage of the calm in a courtroom that has been plagued by shouting matches, scuffles and protests since the trial began Oct. 19.
But the boycott by five of the case’s eight defendants and their defense team was likely to further undermine the trial, which has been cast as a key plank in Iraq’s transition from dictatorship to democratic rule.
President Bush said yesterday he was not worried about the disarray surrounding the Saddam trial.
“Hopefully the trial will resume and be conducted in a fair” way, Bush told The Associated Press in an interview. “It certainly stands in a stark contrast to how Saddam treated his people. I’d like to see the trial move forward, . That’s what democracies do. They give people a fair trial.”
Abdel-Rahman, a Kurd, appointed new defense attorneys, and the three defendants who accepted them and attended yesterday’s proceedings sat quietly, surrounded by the empty chairs left by Saddam and the others.