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Senator raps handling of Hussein trial

BAGHDAD --The chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee met with the chief judge overseeing the Saddam Hussein trial yesterday, saying he's disappointed the court has allowed the former leader ''to dominate" the trial.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, also said a US general told him that recently announced US troop reductions had been in the works since April and that more are on the way.

Specter, who met with Hussein in Iraq in 1990, was the first member of Congress to meet Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin. Before that meeting, Specter, speaking in the courtroom where Hussein is being tried, told reporters he's disappointed the judge hasn't always kept control.

''You have a butcher who has butchered his own people, a torturer who has tortured his own people," Specter said. ''The evidence ought to be presented in a systematic way which would show that there's been quite an accomplishment in taking [Hussein] out as opposed to letting him . . . control the proceedings."

Specter, the former district attorney of Philadelphia, said there's precedent in US and international law to hold Hussein in contempt of court or have him tried in abstention, topics he said he intended to discuss with Amin.

Amin isn't generally available for comment, but Judge Raid Juhi, who investigated the Hussein case for the court, said of Specter's comments: ''The defendants enjoy rights, and it's up to the chief judge to run the hearings."

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