A lawyer for Saddam Hussein said the deposed Iraqi leader believes someone tipped off U.S. forces to his whereabouts two years ago and that he was gassed while hiding in the spider hole, a newspaper reported Monday.
The Sun also quoted former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark as saying Saddam only spent a short time in the hole near his hometown of Tikrit when he was captured in December 2003, and a motorcycle was supposed to be waiting for him to help him get away.
"Saddam thinks he was gassed in the tunnel," the newspaper quoted Clark as saying. "He tried to get to the exit of the tunnel. But he did not have time to get away. He told us he spent maybe minutes in this tunnel — not hours or days.
"When he started to get out there were soldiers around that area. There was supposed to be a motorcycle there. It was gone," Clark told the newspaper.
He is a member of Saddam's defense team in the trial on mass murder charges.
"Saddam knew the person who owned the house wasn't there. He knew he had been betrayed," Clark said.
He said Saddam told his lawyers he had been moving around Iraq daily with the help of insurgents.
"But every few days he came back to this escape area. Now he knows it was a mistake. Probably American soldiers did not discover the hole. They were told about it," Clark said.
The Sun quoted a man identified as Issam Gazyzwi, said to be another of Saddam's lawyers, as saying Saddam had not seen the picture of himself dressed only in underpants which appeared on The Sun's front page in May.
"Saddam has not actually seen the pictures. He tried to take it philosophically," Gazyzwi was quoted as saying.
Saddam and seven others are charged with killing more than 140 people in the town of Dujail in 1982. Their trial is scheduled to resume Dec. 21.