December 5, 2005 at 4:17 PM CST - Updated July 1 at 11:00 PM
by Hamza Hendawi, The Associated Press
Saddam Hussein said in a heated exchange with the judge Monday that "I am not afraid of execution" during an unruly trial in which the first witness took the stand and testified that the former president's agents carried out random arrests, torture and killings.
The outburst was one of several by Saddam or his co-defendants during the session that also saw a brief walkout by his defense lawyers.
Following the witness' testimony, Saddam defended his actions and told the court that he understood the pressures upon it in his trial. He and his seven co-defendants could be executed if convicted on the charges stemming from the deaths of more than 140 Shiites in 1982.
"When I speak, I speak like your brother," he said. "Your brother inIraq and your brother in the nation. I am not afraid of execution. I realize there is pressure on you and I regret that I have to confront one of my sons. But I'm not doing it for myself. I'm doing it for Iraq. I'm not defending myself. But I am defending you."
He added that: "I want you to be the shooters and the swords against the enemy army."
When witness Ahmed Hassan Mohammed spoke, Saddam told him: "Do not interrupt me, son."
"If it's ever established that Saddam Hussein laid a hand on any Iraqi, then everything that witness said is correct," he said.
He also told the court that he "would like (the witness) to be examined by an independent medical institution."
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