BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Experts confirmed the authenticity of Saddam Hussein’s signature on documents connected to a crackdown on Shiites in the 1980s, prosecutors said Monday in a new session of the trial of the former Iraqi leader and seven co-defendants.
The report from handwriting experts said a signature on a document approving rewards for intelligence agents involved in the crackdown was Saddam’s, prosecutors said, reading from the report.
In an earlier session, Saddam had refused to confirm or deny his signature. Some of his co-defendants had said their alleged signatures on other documents were forgeries.
The defense immediately disputed the experts’ results and insisted the documents be analyzed by other experts not affiliated with the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
“We demand international experts with international expertise,” defense lawyer Khamis al-Obaidi said.
After hearing the report, the judge adjourned the court until Wednesday to give the experts time to look at more documents.
Saddam and the seven former members of his regime are on trial for the deaths of 148 Shiites and the imprisonment and torture of others after a 1982 assassination attempt against the former Iraqi leader in the Shiite town of Dujail. The defendants face possible execution by hanging if convicted.
Dressed in a black suit and white shirt, Saddam sat silently in the court Monday along with his co-defendants.
The report said Saddam and his top co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim — Saddam’s half brother and former head of the Mukhabarat intelligence agency — refused to give the experts samples of their handwriting for comparison. So the experts compared the signatures to other documents not related to the case, the report said.
The experts confirmed Ibrahim’s signatures on several documents connected to the crackdown, the report said. Among them was a memo requesting the rewards for six Mukhabarat officers involved in the crackdown, which Saddam allegedly approved. Another listed Dujail families whose farmlands were to be razed in retaliation for the incident.
The defendants have insisted their actions in the crackdown were legal because they were taken in response to the attempt to kill Saddam as he drove through Dujail on July 8, 1982.
The prosecution has sought to show that the crackdown went far beyond the actual perpetrators of the attack to punish the mainly Shiite town.
It presented intelligence and other documents from the time showing that entire families — including women and children — were arrested in the sweep that followed and imprisoned for years without trial. It said minors — including an 11-year-old boy — were among those sentenced to death for the attack.
Dujail residents, including several women, have testified in court that they were tortured with electrical shocks and beatings during their imprisonment.