BAGHDAD, Iraq (July 26) - A thinner but combative Saddam Hussein returned to court Wednesday for the first time since his hunger strike and hospitalization, complaining he had been forced to attend the proceedings 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 -- "not by hanging as a common criminal" -- if it convicts him of all charges and sentences him to death.
"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," he 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 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.
As the session began Wednesday, the ousted president was allowed to make a statement, beginning with a verse from the Quran, in which he challenged the validity and impartiality of the court. He then repeated a theme he has voiced since the start of the trial -- that the panel is an illegal instrument of the American occupation.
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."
Saddam last attended the proceedings on June 19 when chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi asked the court to impose the death penalty on the former ruler for his role in the deaths of Shiite Muslims in Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt against him.
The hunger strike and the lawyers' boycott followed last month's kidnap-slaying of defense attorney Khamis al-Obeidi, the third defense attorney slain since the trial began. The defense has accused Shiite militias for the killing.
During one of Saddam's outbursts, Abdel-Rahman accused the ex-president of inciting violence against Iraqis. Saddam responded: "I am inciting the killing of Americans and invaders, not the killing of Iraqis. I am Saddam Hussein. I call Iraqis to be in harmony and work on evicting the invaders."
The judge told him that insurgents are killing an average of 60 Iraqis every day -- and only two Americans. "Why are they attacking Iraqis in coffee shops and markets? Why don't they go detonate themselves among Americans?" he asked.
Saddam replied: "This case is not worth the urine of an Iraqi child."
Saddam then said he had told his followers "that if you see an American vehicle and you can strike it" but the judge turned off his microphones before the former leader could finish.
Earlier, Saddam told the judge that "if you were a real Iraqi, you would know that your country is going through extraordinary conditions."
"We not only resist this occupation. We do not acknowledge it. We do not acknowledge all the decisions it has made, including appointing the so-called government and this court you represent," Saddam said.
Abdel-Rahman interrupted, saying "you were not brought here against your will. Here's the medical report ... and it indicates that you are in good shape."
"I didn't say I was ill," Saddam snapped back. "I was on a hunger strike."
During his remarks, Saddam also objected to having a court-appointed attorney deliver the final summation on his behalf. The replacement was appointed after the regular defense team boycotted the proceedings, claiming bias by the court and to press demands for better security for its members.
"Where are your lawyers," the judge asked. "They're staying outside in front of the TV screens and inciting violence. Those are lawyers? Having millions of dinars? Listen Saddam Hussein, your lawyers have millions of dinars and are inciting violence."
As the court-appointed lawyer began to speak, Saddam interrupted him.
"You are my enemy. Who appointed you?" he asked. "I challenge you to read this on your own. He probably didn't even write this. The American agent, the spy probably wrote this for him."
During the summation, the court-appointed lawyer, whose identity was kept secret for security reasons, said the documents and witnesses presented by the prosecution did not tie Saddam personally to any killings and torture of the Dujail Shiites.
"Instead they refer to 'Saddam the tyrant,' 'Saddam the killer' ... and such references that reflect being written by people who are not impartial," the lawyer said.
"The documents lack any details when it comes to a specific role for Saddam in Dujail in 1982. There is no proof that when he was president he visited Dujail after the assassination attempt. There's no proof he was there when the detentions happened," the lawyer added.
With Saddam, the court has heard six of the eight final summations. After the final one is presented, the court will adjourn to consider a verdict, possibly in mid-August.
Saddam is due to stand trial Aug. 21 in a second case -- the bloody crackdown on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.