Saddam is depressed, says his trial judge

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The Independent Online

Saddam Hussein's morale has "collapsed" after nearly 18 months in jail awaiting trial, according to the man who will sit in judgment on him.

Iraq's former dictator has been held in an American-run detention centre since US forces plucked him from an underground hideout in his home district near Tikrit in December 2003. Newspapers recently published photographs of Saddam in his underpants, bringing complaints that his rights as a prisoner awaiting trial were being violated.

Raid Juhi, who will preside over his trial, told the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat: "The ousted president has suffered a collapse in his morale, because he understands the extent of the charges against him, and because he's certain that he will stand trial before an impartial court." Charges include killing rival politicians during his 30-year rule, using chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians, invading Kuwait and suppressing Kurdish and Shia uprisings in 1991.

Yesterday Saddam's lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi, rejected the judge's comments. "The last time I met Saddam was in late April, and his spirits were very high," he said.