Saturday, July 03, 2004

Rafsanjani accuses US of censorship, urges public trial for Saddam

: "Iran's Rafsanjani accuses US of censorship, urges public trial for Saddam


TEHRAN, July 2 (AFP) - Influential former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Friday the trial of Saddam Hussein should be totally public and denounced the fact that the Iran-Iraq war was not among the main charges against the ousted Iraqi leader.

"Saddam's trial must be completely public. It is necessary to let Saddam express himself, that the Americans express themselves, that we ourselves can express ourselves and that people say what they have to say," Rafsanjani told
Friday prayers carried by state radio.

"Saddam's extraordinary crimes must be exposed but from the first words pronounced by Saddam the Americans imposed censorship and broadcast only what they wanted," he said, branding it "shame for the United States".

Rafsanjani, head of Iran's top political arbitration body and still one of Iran's most powerful figures, condemned the absence from the main charges of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war in which one million people died.

"I ask the Iraqi judge why Saddam's crimes against Iran have not been raised," said Rafsanjani, adding that 100,000 Iranian fighters suffered from Iraqi chemical weapons.

"If the Iraqi court refuses to include (Saddam's responsibility) in the unleashing of the war against Iran, it means it is on an order from the Americans.

"Why does the war against Kuwait, which only lasted several months, figure among the major charges while the war against Iran which lasted eight years has been omitted?" he asked.

Saddam, toppled last year by a US-led invasion, appeared on Thursday before the court in Baghdad which is to judge him for crimes against humanity.

The ousted president remained defiant. He justified the invasion he ordered against Kuwait, refused to sign legal documents and called US President George W. Bush the real villain."

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