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Newly released video reveals Saddam looking rundown



Published: Tue, June 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The last time he was seen on video was July 2004.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The tribunal that will put Saddam Hussein on trial released a video Monday showing the 68-year-old former dictator -- looking drawn and tired but dressed in a pinstriped suit -- being questioned about the killings of at least 50 Iraqis in a Shiite town.

Unlike Saddam's combative appearance at his arraignment July 1, 2004 -- the last time he was seen on video -- the new tape reveals a man who appears a shadow of his former self.

There are heavy bags under his eyes. He often clasps his hands and squeezes his fingers -- often clutching them together when trying to make a point. His hair appears unkempt, and he constantly runs his hand down his face and through his beard, which has more gray flecks in it than it did a year ago.

At least two legal officials close to the case said the video -- which was not accompanied by any audio -- was apparently made Sunday. They did not want to be identified for security reasons.

The video was released as insurgents, many of whom are believed to be Saddam loyalists, launched four suicide car bombings and other attacks around Iraq that killed at least 14 people. Twenty-two more Iraqis were wounded after militants opened fire on authorities trying to evacuate the injured from one of the suicide blasts in the northern city of Samara.

A car bomb exploded several hundred yards from an armed convoy carrying a U.S. diplomat in Baghdad on Monday, but the official was unhurt, the embassy said. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said there had been an explosion but the convoy was not the target.

Strong disagreements

Already tense relations soured further Monday between the majority Shiites, who dominate the government and parliament, and the Sunni Arabs, whom many hold responsible for the insurgency.

Strong disagreements broke out over the number of representatives the once-powerful Sunni minority will have on a committee drafting the country's constitution. Shiite lawmakers rejected calls for increasing Sunni representatives from 15 to 25 on the 55-member drafting committee. Sunnis renewed threats to boycott and sink the charter.

Limited or no Sunni participation on the committee would rob the charter of its legitimacy. When the draft is put to a nationwide referendum, it is likely that at least three of the four predominantly Sunni Arab provinces in Iraq would vote against it, causing the measure to fail and parliament to dissolve.

President Bush spoke Monday with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and stressed the importance that a draft of the constitution be completed. The leaders also discussed the importance of having all groups in Iraqi society represented in the constitutional process, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Why release more footage?

The Iraqi Special Tribunal trying Saddam likely issued the new video to show that it is in control of the proceedings and to counter widespread beliefs that it was being directed by Shiites and Kurds who dominate the government and the 275-member National Assembly.

Iraq's Kurdish president and the Shiite-led government said last week that the ousted leader could appear before the tribunal within two months. They later backtracked after complaints from Saddam's legal team and the tribunal, which said no trial date has been set.

The video showed Saddam wearing a dark gray suit and white open-collared shirt being questioned by chief trial Judge Raid Juhi. Saddam's chief Iraqi lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi, can be seen sitting to his right. Four other defendants, all members of Saddam's administration, were also shown.




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