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December 21, 2005
Subdued Saddam Returns To Trial

Saddam Hussein returned to his trial, showing a more subdued and respectful tone since getting banished for his disruptive behavior two weeks ago. A bit more nattily attired, the former dictator only interrupted to make one request to pray:

A noticeably calmer Saddam Hussein sat quietly in his defendant's chair at the resumption of his trial Wednesday, two weeks after he called the court "unjust" and boycotted a session. When the judge refused to let him take a break to pray, the former leader closed his eyes and appeared to pray from his seat. ...

The deposed president had refused to attend the previous session on Dec. 7. "I will not come to an unjust court! Go to hell!" he said in an outburst in court the day before.

But on Wednesday, his behavior was calmer, and he appeared clean-shaven and in fresh clothes, wearing a dark suit but no tie. Previously during the trial, Saddam has appeared disheveled and has complained about being held in unsanitary conditions.

After greeting the court with a traditional "Peace be upon you," he sat quietly in the defendants' area and appeared to pay close attention to the proceedings, at times taking notes.

The Iraqi court has been criticized for showing Saddam too much deference and allowing him to control the pace of the testimony, which had ground to a crawl before the last session. It looks like the judges have heard the criticism and have responded accordingly, and today's session had several witnesses testify to missing relatives and the actions of the Saddam government in detaining and torturing Dujail residents after the assassination attempt on Saddam failed.

I wonder, though, whether the court had any affect on Saddam. I suspect that the enthusiastic participation by the Sunni in last week's election sobered Saddam deeply. He had told himself, I think, that the Iraqi people would rise up and bring him back to power -- and then to see his own, favored Sunni minority embrace democracy must have been a cold dash of reality. He now understands that no one will rescue him from the end all dictators eventually face -- and that his input will mean little or nothing towards avoiding that end.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 21, 2005 6:46 AM

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