As he awaits Sunday's scheduled resumption of his trial on crimes against humanity, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein turned the tables on his accusers with a lawsuit against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
According to a United Press International report, defense lawyers for Hussein distributed copies of the suit — in which Hussein blames the two coalition leaders for destroying Iraq and accuses them of committing war crimes by using weapons of mass destruction — to reporters on Wednesday. Among the claims in the suit are that coalition forces used internationally banned weapons in their military maneuvers in the country, including enriched uranium and phosphoric and cluster bombs against unarmed Iraqi civilians, specifically in Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, al-Kaem and Anbar province.
In November, after initially denying claims in an Italian documentary that it had used the banned substance in a "massive and indiscriminate way" against civilians during the November 2004 offensive in Fallujah, the U.S. military admitted to using white phosphorous munitions "sparingly" as an incendiary weapon against enemy troops during the Fallujah assault. The military strongly denied using the banned substance against civilians, as some critics have charged, and said that its military use is not banned.
The substance, which burns at temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is used to start fires and can cause severe burns to humans. Its use against civilian populations or in air attacks against troops near population centers is banned by the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons protocol, which the U.S. is not a signatory to. Hussein has been accused of using banned chemical and biological weapons against his people, and one of the Bush administration's originally stated rationales for invading Iraq in 2003 was to stop Hussein's banned weapons of mass destruction program. To date, no WMDs have been found in Iraq.
According to the UPI report, the suit additionally accuses Bush and Blair of torturing Iraqi prisoners, polluting Iraq's air, water and environment, inciting internal strife and destroying the country's cultural heritage with the aim of eliminating an ancient civilization.
Hussein's legal team said Sunday that it intended to start legal action against Bush and Blair in the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and the suit demands that the pair appear before court to answer the charges and requested the harshest punishment available according to Dutch legislation and the rules of international and humanitarian laws. The suit is also seeking compensation for "all material and moral damage inflicted on the Iraqi people."