Saddam's French lawyer vows to citeRumsfeld, Kissinger to testify at trial

29th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 28 (AFP) - Controversial French lawyer Jacques Verges, who has said he will defend Saddam Hussein, said Sunday he would call US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to testify at the former Iraqi leader's trial.

PARIS, March 28 (AFP) - Controversial French lawyer Jacques Verges, who has said he will defend Saddam Hussein, said Sunday he would call US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to testify at the former Iraqi leader's trial.

Outlining his possible line of defense, Verges said he would also summon former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger to the witness stand in order to reveal Washington's past alleged links with Iraq.

In an interview on Sunday with private radio station Europe 1, Verges called Rumsfeld a "travelling salesman of toxins and chemical components" destined for use in Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme.

Rumsfeld went to Iraq in 1984 as a special envoy for then US president Ronald Reagan.

Verges also told Europe 1 that he had transcripts of discussions between
Kissinger and Iraqi authorities about "resuming contact after an interruption". He did not specify the dates on which the conversations took place.

The French lawyer insisted that Washington and Britain - who led last year's invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam - were responsible for providing the former Iraqi president with his supposed arsenal of illicit weapons.

Verges - who acted for Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal - told AFP on Saturday that he had received a letter from Saddam's nephew Ali Barzan al-Tikriti asking him to represent his uncle.

When asked about the mass killings of civilians blamed on Saddam, the 80-year-old Verges replied that the greatest number of civilian deaths were the result of crippling international economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.

"It's not Saddam Hussein but the Americans and the British that bombed water treatment facilities and hospitals," Verges told Europe 1.

"If any crime against humanity took place, if there was any genocide, it was committed by the British and the Americans," he added.

Verges has said he is not sure where Saddam will eventually be brought to trial - in Iraq, before a US court or before the International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

He said it was not even sure that a trial could eventually take place, as no formal legal procedures have been launched against his client.

Verges said a group of young French attorneys and the president of the Algiers bar association would assist him in defending Saddam, who was captured by US forces in December last year.

The French lawyer is also representing Saddam's deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who surrendered to US forces in April 2003.

© AFP

                                         Subject: French News

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