Defense Lawyer Reveals Saddam's Final Thoughts

ByABC News via logo
December 30, 2006, 7:11 PM

AMMAN, Jordan, Dec. 31, 2006 — -- Longtime Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was hanged early Saturday in Iraq. One member of his defense team, Bouchra Khalil, spoke later in the day to ABC News' Carolyn Durand and Mohammed Ajlouni.

Q: You're not only one of the leading members of the defense team, but a family lawyer, a close friend of the family and with them in the last several days by their side supporting them.

Bouchra Khalil: I expected the sentence for Saddam Hussein, especially in the last stage as the sentence came Nov. 5. I thought there was a speed up in the decision making by the appeals court. They had 200 pages to study from the defense lawyers and they did that all in nine days. And it was was very surprising by how quickly they tried to do this and get the executions over with and done so quickly. I expected the sentence, but I did not expect the speed of carrying out the procedure of the execution.

I was surprised also the execution should have taken place 30 days after it was final and be certified by the president. They did it very quickly and without waiting the 30-day period that is required. When the lawyers said it should be within 30 days, the law says it has to be after 30 days the execution should take place. And it is morally, and for humanitarian reasons and tradition, they should have given him 30 days period to arrange his affairs. This is a violation of international law.

I spent the full day with the family yesterday [Friday]. They were very sure the execution would take place.

The girls were sure the execution would take place quickly. They had a feeling it would be done Saturday or Sunday. That's as of Friday.

We were watching TV all day yesterday and it was conflicting reports. Reports saying that they will execute him. Reports saying he was handed to the Americans. Reports saying he hadn't been handed to the Americans. Reports saying he would meet with his lawyers. Reports saying he couldn't be executed during the holidays. The girls were devastated. They were very nervous; they were in a terrible mood. They just had the feeling that his hours were near.

Rana -- she was the younger daughter -- she was crying. The grandkids were crying. She was in a terrible state. Raghad, the eldest had to play the role of the father. She did not cry. She tried to be the tough one, to be brave, to hold the family together. I felt that she wanted to break down and cry, but she didn't, but she was trying to be very strong in front of the sister and kids.

Raghad -- she wanted badly to go see her father. She was asking me, "I want to go see my father. I need to find a way to see him." And Rana did too. They were desperate in trying to find a way to see their father. Even though Raghad knew there was a warrant for her arrest if she arrived in Iraq, she really wanted to desperately find a way to see her father. Her mother called, Saddam's wife [Sajida] called. She said, "You should not go. You should not do this. I have had enough. What will happen if they arrest you? Who is going to take care of your kids?" And then Ali her son, Raghad's son, was talking to his mother and said, "You can not go, you cannot go." And it was like watching a play by Shakespeare, a Shakespearean tragedy.

In normal practices, the American authorities and the Iraqi authorities would have contact with us, what the procedure was, even for each session we would have communication with them they would tell us what was going [on]. Yesterday, we had no communication or anything. We have a lawyer in Baghdad who we thought would be in the picture, but he was not advised, he was not in the picture. We were calling everyone to find out what was going on but we couldn't. Even he was not told was happening. It was a very difficult day.

Q: How did Rana and Raghad react to the pictures they say today [Saturday]?

Khalil: Today it was a private day for them. It was a private family matter. I respected that -- do not know how they reacted .They wanted to be alone, just the family together and they did not want anyone there so I do not know.