BAGHDAD - Saddam Hussein's first day in court on charges of crimes against humanity
on Wednesday was marked by an argument with presiding judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin.
Following is a transcript of that exchange:
In response to a question, Saddam stood up and began reading aloud from a copy
of the Koran he carried into court.
Judge: Mr. Saddam we ask you to write down your identity, your name, occupation
and address and then we will allow you to talk. Now it is time to write down your identity.
Saddam: I was not about to say much.
Judge: We want your identity, your name, then we will listen to what you have.
We are writing down the identities at this time. We will hear you when we need to listen to you.
Saddam: First of all, who are you and what are you?
Judge: The Iraqi Criminal Court.
Saddam: All of you are judges?
Judge: We don't have time to get into details. You can write down what you like.
Saddam: I have been here in this military building since 2:30, and then from
nine I have been wearing this suit. They have asked me to take it off and then put it on again many times.
Judge: Who are you? What is your identity? Why don't you take a seat and let
the others say their names and we will get back to you.
Saddam: You know me. You are an Iraqi and you know who I am. And you know I
don't get tired.
Judge: These are formalities and we need to hear it from you.
Saddam: They have prevented me from getting a pen and a paper because paper,
it seems, is frightening these days. I don't hold any grudges against any of you. But upholding what is right and respecting
the great Iraqi people who chose me I won't answer to this court, with all due respect to the individuals involved in it,
and I reserve my constitutional rights as the president of Iraq. You know me.
Judge: These are the procedures. A judge cannot rely on personal knowledge.
Saddam: I don't recognise the group that gave you the authority and assigned
you. Aggression is illegitimate and what is built on illegitimacy is illegitimate.
(c) Reuters 2005. All rights reserved.