AMMAN,(Reuters) – Lawyers for Saddam Hussein have asked his Baghdad court for an independent investigation into claims by the ousted Iraqi leader that he has been tortured by his American captors.
Chief defence lawyer Khalil Dulaimi said on Sunday that Saddam expects mounting psychological and physical abuse to prevent him from properly defending himself in court.
Saddam is on trial for his life in connection with the killing of 148 people in a village north of Baghdad in the 1980s. He told a court hearing on Thursday he had been beaten by the Americans, but did not display any marks to the court.
"I have lodged a complaint with the court to investigate the crime against my client and torture against him during and after his arrest," Dulaimi told Reuters in an interview in Amman.
"We have asked for an independent medical team to examine the president to examine the bruises inflicted on him which are still there on his body," said Dulaimi without elaborating.
The White House has already dismissed Saddam”s torture claim as preposterous. The trial has been adjourned until Jan. 24.
Saddam expected worse was to come, Dulaimi said.
"The President believes they will intensify their physical and psychological torture, from mishandling to verbal abuse to other tactics, to exhaust him," he said.
"They want to weaken his role in court and so that he cannot use his natural right to defend himself," he added.
QUESTIONS TRIAL FAIR
Saddam has used his high profile trial in a fortified Baghdad court to attack U.S. policy and appeal to Iraqi nationalism.
His performance has prompted an outcry by critics who say he was using the trial as a political platform to steal the show from witnesses who described beatings and torture by his regime.
A nervous court was also resorting more often to cutting the sound and shifting the picture to a model of the scales of justice, every time Saddam seemed to disclose something that could influence public opinion, Dulaimi said.
Likewise prosecutors have also increased their interruptions in court to shout Saddam down, Dulaimi said.
"Every time the president wants to say something important they cut it … this is blatant censorship and an attempt to prevent him from getting his voice across," Dulaimi said.
The court was also restricting Saddam”s direct access to his defence team before every new hearing, Dulaimi.
As part of the mounting pressure, Saddam was now being transferred to a small dim cell without a window for several days before every court appearance, Dulaimi said.
"The President used to spend several hours in the court prison in the early days of the trial, but now its several days and many more and longer hours deprived of sleep," Dulaimi said.