'No sign' Saddam suffered torture

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The Independent Online

Officials saw no evidence that Saddam Hussein was beaten in US custody, according to an investigative judge who prepared the case against the former Iraqi leader, contradicting Saddam's claims that he was abused and "the marks are still there".

US officials strongly denied Saddam's allegations as "completely unfounded". Saddam, in turn, denounced those denials as "lies".

Saddam said the American denials could not be believed, noting that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq despite President George Bush's pre-war claims.

"The White House lied when it said Iraq had chemical weapons," Saddam said. "I reported all the wounds I got to three medical committees ... We are not lying, the White House is lying."

Judge Raed Juhisaid neither the defendants nor their lawyers had complained about beatings and officials had never seen signs of beatings."The defendants receive very good health care by the authorities. No ordinary Iraqi receives this kind of care," he said.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for the deaths of more than 140 Shia after a 1982 attempt on Saddam's life in Dujail, north of Baghdad.

The first witness to testify yesterday spoke from behind a curtain. He said he was eight years old during the killings, when his grandmother, father and uncles had been arrested and tortured, and he never saw his male relatives again.

Saddam said the court should not depend on the testimony of witnesses who were children at the time of the alleged crime.

The trial was adjourned until 24 January.