| The handcuffed hands of Saddam Hussein at the hearing in Baghdad. (Reuters)
Kuwait, July 2 (Reuters): Kuwait exploded in fury today after deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein described its citizens as “dogs” and claimed in a courtroom statement that the tiny Gulf state invaded by his forces in 1990 was part of Iraq.
Official media bombarded the nation with pictures of Saddam at his arraignment hearing in Baghdad yesterday, alongside angry words aimed at him by top Kuwaiti politicians.
“Let him say what he wants; his fate is known ... his fate is with the dogs,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, repeating demands that Saddam be sentenced to death for the 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait. Muslims consider “dogs” a particularly insulting epithet.
“This is a historic day. I congratulate the Iraqi people,” parliamentarian Khaled al-Adwa said of Saddam’s appearance before an Iraqi court. Ordinary Kuwaitis voiced similar views.
“This guy should be hanged. He is not a human being,” said Adel Boushihri, 51, a senior bank employee. “Some people still have complexes from what Saddam did to us. He created a deep hatred between the Iraqis and Kuwaitis.”
Saddam refused to recognise he was guilty of a crime in invading Kuwait, saying: “I’m surprised you’re charging me with that as an Iraqi when everyone knows that Kuwait is part of Iraq.” He also told the judge: “The Iraqi soldiers went to defend the honour of Iraq, so what right do these (Kuwaiti) dogs have'”
“Saddam is a criminal who killed the Kuwaitis, stole their money and raped their women. How can he say the invasion was for the sake of Iraqis, that dog'” Boushihri said.
Kuwait University professor Hamed al-Abdullah said Saddam had no right to make such remarks as Kuwait supported him financially and morally during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Iraq owes Kuwait up to $18 billion given during that war.
“He repaid us with an invasion,” Abdullah said. “Saddam should thank God 7,000 times he is in a courthouse; during his reign there were no such trials.”
Defence minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah said Saddam’s comments “stress anew that our decision to support Iraq’s liberation process was 100 per cent correct”. Kuwait was the launch-pad for last year’s US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam.
Pak hostage ‘released’
A Pakistani kidnapped by Islamic militants in Iraq and threatened with execution telephoned his family in Pakistan today saying he had been released, his uncle said.
“We received a telephone call from Amjad today. He said that he has been freed,” said Abdul Razaq Khan, the uncle of Amjad Hafeez. He spoke briefly to his mother who had made an impassioned plea on Monday for the release of her son. “We were in a state of torture since he was kidnapped. But now we all are overjoyed,” the uncle said.