Chief lawyer reports Saddam and his justification team will boycott next trial session

Saddam Hussein and his lawyers will boycott the next session of the deposed leader's trial in Baghdad to protest the alleged "bias" of the new chief judge appointed to hear the case, his chief lawyer told The Associated Press Monday. "There is an unanimous decision by the defense team to not attend Wednesday's hearing because of the comedy we witnessed in yesterday's trial," Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said as he arrived in Jordan from neighboring Iraq. Al-Dulaimi said the ousted leader would refuse to attend. "If he was forced to attend, he won't sit in the place designated for him, but will stand in a corner to protest against the measures taken by the judge".

"The court hearing yesterday lacked the basics of a fair and honest trial, and the judge was biased against the defendants, who under the law are innocent until proven guilty," al-Dulaimi said.

On Sunday, a new judge cracked down in a chaotic session of Saddam's trial, ordering a co-defendant and Jordanian lawyer Saleh Armouti expelled from the courtroom. The entire defense team left in protest and Saddam was escorted out after a shouting match in which he yelled, "Down with America!"

Despite the turmoil in the courtroom, chief judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman pushed ahead, replacing the defense lawyers with court-appointed attorneys and heard three prosecution witnesses before adjourning the trial until Wednesday.

It was Abdel-Rahman's first session at the helm after replacing a jurist who stepped down under criticism that he was not doing enough to stop Saddam and his half brother, co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim, from dominating the trial with frequent outbursts and disruptions.

Defense lawyers criticized the tough approach, saying it was preventing Saddam and his seven co-defendants from getting a fair trial. The eight could face death by hanging if convicted in the killing of at least 140 Shiites after a July 1982 attempt on Saddam's life in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad, reports the AP.


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