Former Dy PM testifies in defence of Saddam
Tareq Aziz took the witness stand to defend Saddam in a case involving the killing of Shiite civilians from Dujail in the 1980s.india Updated: May 24, 2006 16:09 IST
Former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz took the witness stand on Wednesday to defend Saddam Hussein and his associates in a case involving the killing of Shiite civilians from Dujail in the 1980s.
While he was not involved with the events of Dujail itself, his testimony focused on the series of assassination attempts against officials of the Baath regime.
"The president is not guilty, nor are any of the officials in the government, just because they punished those who tried to assassinate the head of state," he said.
An assassination attempt against Saddam in Dujail in 1982 sparked a harsh crackdown and the killing of 148 people there.
"The Dujail case is part of a chain of assassination operations against officials and I am one of the victims," he said, laying the responsibility for the attempt at the feet of the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party.
"I am also a victim of the criminal acts of a party who is now an official party in the government," he said.
In 1980, Aziz was attacked by militants who tossed grenades at him at the university in Baghdad.
"The president of the state in any country, if faced with an assassination attempt, should take procedures to punish those who conduct and help this operation," he said.
Aziz said he was testifying on the behalf of not just Saddam, but also former head of intelligence Barzan al-Tikriti and former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan.
Saddam then spoke out in defence of Barzan and Ramadan, saying they had nothing to do with the crackdown on Dujail.
"I just let this issue work in the usual way and assigned the security department, not the intelligence who had other work to do," Saddam said.