Saddam Hussein’s head dominates the front pages today, and The Australian runs with the headline ‘
Saddam: this court is not fit to judge me,’ reporting that the former dictator refused to give his name and
challenged the authority of an Iraqi court as he pleaded not guilty to
the first of 12 charges of abuse spanning three decades. The paper also reports that the
East Timor border is at ‘flashpoint,’ reporting that a mob backed by Indonesian troops has crossed into East Timor, attacked
a border patrol and set fire to buildings, threatening the fragile
peace between the two nations. The incident on Saturday in the Oecussi enclave, detailed in a UN cable
seen by The Australian, poses a “nightmare scenario for Canberra,” says the paper. Meanwhile, more than 200 Indonesians are being held in a
makeshift detention camp in the northwest port of Broome after a
crackdown on illegal fishing, reports the paper. The alleged poachers were reportedly paid up to $60 a month by
Chinese-owned fishing syndicates to fish for sharks in Australian
waters.

Amidst the ongoing controversy surrounding Howard’s proposed anti terror laws, The Sydney Morning Herald
reports that prominent imam Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly has urged the
federal government to scrap its proposed terrorism laws, saying he
will “personally guarantee” there are no terrorist attacks here and
happily go to jail if he’s wrong. The pledge from the man who offered
to swap places with Douglas
Wood underscores his concerns
that the laws would increase the terrorist threat. Joanne Lees
remains firmly in the glare of the spotlight, with the paper reporting
that she’s admitted she changed the story of her attack on an outback
highway after talking with police. Lees told a Supreme Court jury
yesterday that she “started to doubt”
herself after police told her there were no four-wheel-drive utilities
that allowed access from the front cabin to the tray at the back. Lees
told police in 2001 her attacker had forced her into the back of
the vehicle through a space between the front seats.

The
Age
leads with a photo of ‘defiant Saddam,’ grey-bearded and wearing a dark jacket over an open-necked white
shirt, Saddam hectored the chief judge from his seat inside a white
metal pen in a tightly secured courtroom in the former headquarters
of his Baath Party, reports the paper. Former PM Malcolm Fraser
has slammed Howard’s anti terror laws, strongly urging opposition to
the government’s drastic new anti-terrorism measures, as the PM
rejected a backbench call for a watchdog on them. Meanwhile, Queensland
and Victoria have raised concerns that a shoot-to-kill
provision
in the draft legislation leaked by ACT Chief Minister Jon
Stanhope late last week was not in the original agreement between
the federal and state governments. In sport, the career of Australia’s best female tennis player, Alicia
Molik, is under a cloud after she was again forced from the court
in tears
because of a debilitating medical condition.

“COWARD IN A CAGE,” screams The Daily
Telegraph
,
reporting that Hussein faced his date with destiny yesterday, “humbled
in a white cage.” Meanwhile, the paper’s Sydney Confidential section
profiles the woman “behind the mullet, the carpet of chest hair and the
voice that’s so big in Germany” — visiting cheeseball David Hasselhoff‘s wife Pamela Bach. TheHerald Sun runs with “A TYRANT ON TRIAL,” reporting that the
deposed tyrant refused to recognise the court and stuck to his claim
that he was still the rightful president. Elsewhere, the Hun reports that the murky Yarra River could soon be on tap as drinking water under a proposal to be considered by the Bracks Government.

Joanne Lees dominates the front ofThe
NT News
,
reporting that the 32-year-old told the court the first she knew of there being a
suspect in her boyfriend’s murder was when she read a story on the
BBC’s website in 2002 and saw a photograph of the man. “SADDAM OPENS FIRE ON JUDGE AND COURT” proclaims The
Courier-Mail
,
reporting that a panel of five judges will both hear the case and
render a verdict in
what could be the first of several trials faced by Saddam for
atrocities during his bloody, 23-year rule. In politics closer to home,
the paper reports that Nationals federal leader Mark Vaile has sent
the party’s MPs and staff a guide on how to criticise Queensland
senator Barnaby Joyce.


The Mercury

pushes the boundaries of baby talk headlines with “THE KINGAROO OF
CUDDLES,” reporting that he
doesn’t have a name yet, but in Denmark they are calling Our Mary’s little prince the
‘Kingaroo.’ And, according to the paper, the “little prince with the
Tassie heritage” is already used to posing for official portraits.
As a photo released last night shows, Denmark’s newest little
prince is settling in well to life at the palace with his mum and dad.
And rest assured, insiders last night said the “slight yellow tinge” to
the baby’s skin was a bit of jaundice and nothing to worry about.

Out west, The
West Australian

leads with ‘Livid Labor MPs gang up on Gallop,’ reporting that Labor
backbenchers are in uproar over the decision by Geoff Gallop to
give a plum parliamentary secretary post to Albany MLA Peter Watson, in
what is the first clear sign of internal party fallout from the Bob
Kucera shares affair.

And aside from its Saddam splash, the The
Advertiser

leads with the news that State budget cuts loom, reporting that a $600
million blowout in public servants’ superannuation means the
State Government will have to find another $40 million a year to cover
it and cut spending in next year’s Budget.

Peter Fray

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