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Home >> World
UPDATED: 08:06, July 22, 2005
Saddam defies at hearing, Algerian envoys in Iraq kidnapped
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Iraq's toppled president Saddam Hussein listened to charges against him by a tribunal official on Thursday when Kidnappers hit out again against diplomats in Iraq, snatching two Algerian envoys in Baghdad.

A videotape aired by al-Arabiya TV showed a defying Saddam appearing before a tribunal official, listening to charges against him, including dispossessing properties belonging to Iraqi Kurds and Shiite Muslims.

The Dubai-based TV channel said the hearing was held on Thursday.

The judge can be heard from the video telling Saddam, "You are detained by an elected government for charges against you. You are accused of confiscating properties of Shiite Fali Kurds. You have the right to have a lawyer."

Saddam talked back several times during the hearing. He interrupted the official by saying, "Under the law, shouldn't the lawyer face his defendant before the hearings?"

He also complained that he had not been told when the hearing would be held.

"I am detained and this is a game ... I am detained by the Iraqi government appointed by the Americans," said Saddam, who was with his lawyer.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal said on Sunday that court proceedings against Saddam and his aides over crimes against Iraqi people could begin "within days".

In another development, gunmen abducted the Algerian charge d'affairs to Baghdad, another diplomat and their driver on Thursday. The kidnaping was confirmed by the Algerian Foreign Ministry.

"The armed men abducted the Algerian top envoy Ali Bila'aroussi, and the embassy diplomatic attache Azzedine bin Fadi, along with their driver, after they opened fire at their four-wheel-drive vehicle near al-Sa'a restaurant, in Baghdad's western al-Mansur district," a police source told Xinhua on customary condition of anonymity.

The attackers on two cars stopped the vehicle of the embassy and dragged the diplomats and their driver out of their vehicle, he said.

Xinhua reporters saw backup police shooting in the sky to warn any irrelevant people against approaching the embassy, which is just one block away from the abduct scene.

Iraqi and US troops reached the area afterwards and immediately started an investigation.

No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction so far.

Earlier in the month, Egypt's top envoy Ihab al-Sharif was kidnapped by a group of gunmen near the Egyptian consulate in al- Rabie Street in western Baghdad, only several weeks after he was named ambassador to Iraq.

Iraq's al-Qaida wing claimed it had killed al-Sharif, but provided no evidence on his killing.

Baghdad officials say Iraqi insurgents are trying to scare away diplomats, prevent them from raising the level of their diplomatic representation and isolate the Iraqi government.

Source: Xinhua

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