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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saddam Hussein boycotts hearing

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saddam Hussein boycotts hearing Saddam Hussein boycotts hearing
The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven of his former Baath Party regime colleagues has resumed without the former leader in the courtroom.

He is complaining about the conditions in which he is being held and how the trial is being conducted.

On Tuesday the former leader told his judges to "go to hell", vowing that he would not return to an "unjust" court.

Meanwhile the eight-year-old son of a guard at the trial was abducted from outside his Baghdad home on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if the kidnapping was related to the trial.

Thousands of Iraqis, including many children, have been abducted - mainly for money - since the Iraqi leader was ousted in 2003.

In overnight violence, a man arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill the top trial investigator was freed by gunmen from a hospital in Kirkuk.

Negotiations

Saddam Hussein and seven former aides are on trial over the 1982 killing of 148 Shia Muslims in the Iraqi town of Dujail.

They all deny the charges against them and could face the death penalty if convicted.

He should receive the same level of justice as he bestowed on others
JK, Nottingham

Wednesday's hearing had been due to resume in the morning in the specially constructed courtroom in Baghdad's Green Zone.

However, it was delayed by four hours by wrangling over how to proceed in the face of Saddam Hussein's boycott.

Under Iraqi law the trial can continue without the defendant present in the courtroom.

According to AFP news agency, as the hearing got under way, Saddam's lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi stood up to thank the chief judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin for allowing the trial to continue.

Arrangements may be made for the former president to watch the trial on a closed circuit TV link, with the right to intervene at certain points, possibly via a microphone, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson says.

'Go to hell!'

Previous court sessions have been marked by frequent violent outbursts from the former Iraqi leader, who has complained constantly that the trial is unjust.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, the former leader shouted at the judge: "I will not return, I will not come to an unjust court! Go to hell!"

This was after the judge ruled that the court would reconvene on the next day to hear two more witnesses, overruling Saddam's lawyers' request for a longer break.

Until now, many observers have felt that Saddam has used his appearances in court to great effect, calling on his followers to continue their fight against the American presence in Iraq and condemning the 2003 invasion again and again.

The defence team has long challenged the legitimacy of the process - which is being conducted by an Iraqi court set up under a mixture of Iraqi and international statutes.

On Monday two men appeared in open court to give harrowing accounts of torture and imprisonment.

On Tuesday another man and two female witnesses, testifying from behind a curtain, their voices electronically distorted to avoid identification, described being beaten and given electric shocks by Iraqi intelligence agents.
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