Saddam: Kill Me By Firing Squad

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein gestures during his trial in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday July 26, 2006. A thinner but combative Saddam Hussein appeared in court Wednesday for the first time since his hunger strike and hospitalization, complaining that he had been brought against his will and asking to be executed by firing squad if the court sentences him to death. (AP Photo/Jamal Nasralah, Pool) AP Photo/Jamal Nasralah

A thinner but combative Saddam Hussein appeared in court Wednesday for the first time since his hunger strike and hospitalization, complaining that he had been brought against his will and asking to be executed by firing squad if the court sentences him to death.

"I was brought against my will directly from the hospital," Saddam told the chief judge. "The Americans insisted that I come against my will. This is not fair."

He asked the court to execute him by firing squad, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reported, "not by hanging as a common criminal," if it convicts him of all charges and sentences him to death.

As the session began in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, the ousted president was allowed to make a statement, in which he challenged the validity and impartiality of the court which could sentence him to death by hanging.

Saddam and seven co-defendants have been on trial since Oct. 19 in the killing and torture of Shiites in Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt against him there. The prosecution has asked for the death penalty for Saddam and two of the seven others.

"I ask you being an Iraqi person that if you reach a verdict of death, execution, remember that I am a military man and should be killed by firing squad and not by hanging as a common criminal," Saddam said.

Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman reminded Saddam that the trial was still under way and that the court had not reached a verdict. Executions in Iraq are normally by hanging.

Saddam then repeated a theme he has voiced since the start of the trial, that the panel is an illegal instrument of the American occupation and is unjust.

As he argued with the chief judge, Saddam raised his hands, pointed his finger and said: "Not even 1,000 people like you can terrify me."

"The invaders only understand the language of the gun," Saddam said. "I am in prison but the knights outside will liberate the country."

In other developments:

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insisted Wednesday that Iraq is a front line in the war on terrorism and said those behind the rampant violence in Iraq are perverting the Islamic faith. "I know some of you question whether Iraq is part of the war on terror," al-Maliki told a joint meeting of Congress.

  • A car bomb exploded Wednesday in a residential neighborhood of Kirkuk, injuring 15 civilians, police say. The bombing occurred around 2:50 p.m. in the city's northern Gharnata district, said police Brig. Sarhat Abdul Qadir. There were no immediate fatalities reported.

  • One of Iraq's vice presidents on Wednesday condemned the "unjust Israeli aggression" against Lebanon and the Palestinians. In letters to the Palestinian and Lebanese leadership, Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, said, "I strongly condemn this unprecedented bullying and add my voice to those calling for an immediate cessation of violence."

  • Two brothers serving in Iraq's police forces were killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle as they returned to their home in southeastern Baghdad, police said.

  • Gunmen abducted the Interior Ministry's residence director, Brig. Abdullah Humoud, as he rode in an unmarked car Wednesday. It was not clear who seized him, police said.

  • Seeking to escape that violence, about 2,480 families, or 14,900 people, have fled Baghdad's Dora, Jihad and Abu Ghraib neighborhoods for Wasit province, according to immigration and displacement officials in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.

    Saddam was last in court June 19 when chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi asked the court to impose the death penalty on the former ruler and two others. He was rushed to hospital Sunday on the 17th day of a hunger strike launched to protest the trial and demand better security for the defense team.
    • Joel Roberts

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