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Saddam To Be Held In Cage During Trial

The Sun | February 28 2005

SADDAM Hussein will be forced to sit in a Hannibal Lecter-style cage during his trial.

Top-secret photos of the Baghdad courtroom being built in readiness for the deposed Iraqi dictator’s impending day of judgment are in The Sun today.

The centrepiece will be the reinforced metal cage, similar to the one used to house cannibal Lecter — played by Sir Anthony Hopkins in 1991 movie Silence of the Lambs.

Specially vetted Iraqi workers are currently putting the finishing touches to the courtroom under the watchful eyes of US troops and British private security personnel.

It is being built inside one of the disgraced tyrant’s palaces deep inside the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone.

A source told The Sun: “The security at the court is going to be immense.

“Saddam will be housed in an underground cell and will travel to and from the courtroom cage using an elevator.

“When he’s in his cell he will be under 24-hour surveillance by security staff who will watch him from behind a toughened glass shield.

“The Americans and incoming Iraqi coalition government can’t afford any slip-ups. By the time it’s over, the courtroom will be the safest place in Iraq.”

The source added: The palace where Saddam will face trial is amazing. It must be at least twice the size of Wembley stadium.

Most of the palace itself is in ruins but parts of it have been re-built to hold the trial.

One huge room has been converted for Saddam’s trial. It is split-level with a huge white metal cage situated in the middle. That is where Saddam will be held while the trial is taking place next year.

Underneath is a series of secure elevators that will take him from his cell in the morning and back at night.

Millions of pounds have been spent ensuring security is tight as possible. American special forces have been instrumental in the building. Although most of the constructors are Iraqi civilians, the Americans are overseeing the work.

The courtroom itself looks fairly normal. There are huge benches for the Press although there doesn’t seem to be any sort of public gallery as yet.

It is due to be finished within the next two or three months. When the trial finally starts the area will be almost impossible to attack.

Brutal despot Saddam, 67, is set to face charges of war crimes and genocide.

The courtroom is one of two currently being built in the former Presidential palace, one of which will be used when Saddam’s cronies go on trial in a few months.

One of the first to face justice will be Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali.

He is said to be the man responsible for a chemical attack on the Kurdish city of Halabjah which claimed the lives of 5,000 men, women and children.

Another to be tried in the spring will be Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam’s half-brother, who was once deputy head of the regime’s secret police.

He is accused of issuing an order to raze a Shi’ite village north of Baghdad and of multiple killings following a failed assassination attempt against Saddam in 1982.

The televised trials will begin with at least two of the top 12 government members held in US military custody.

But Saddam is not expected to be tried until well into 2006.

The hearings will be conducted before an Iraqi tribunal — and investigating judges are close to completing dossiers summarising the evidence.

Prosecutors are expected to demand the death penalty for those found guilty of the most serious charges. Saddam is not expected to go on trial until the cases against his top associates are completed.

The former dictator, currently held in solitary confinement in Baghdad, has reportedly been meeting with lawyers appointed by his family.

He is said to have ten Iraqi lawyers and as many as 25 foreign lawyers ready to represent him.

Prosecutors expect Saddam to argue that his actions were covered by his immunity as head of state.

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