Saddam's lawyers end boycott of trial

Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers ended their monthlong boycott of his trial, attending proceedings Tuesday even though the chief judge rejected their demands that he step down. Their return gives a boost to a troubled trial.

Their participation appeared to vindicate the tough approach chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman has taken since he took over the tribunal early last month, pushing ahead with the proceedings even when the defense lawyers, and times, the defendants themselves, refused to attend.

Tuesday's session was one of the most orderly since the trial began in October. Saddam and his seven co-defendants entered the court and took their seats silently. The former Iraqi leader and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim have shouted slogans or argued with the judge at the start of almost every previous session.

Abdel-Rahman opened the session by announcing that the five-judge panel had rejected a defense request that Abdel-Rahman and the chief prosecutor be removed from the trial.

Saddam's chief lawyer Khaled al-Dulaimi said he would appeal and asked that Tuesday's session be halted immediately, a request Abdel-Rahman refused. Al-Dulaimi and his colleague Khamis al-Obeidi left the court to prepare an appeal, but the remaining six members of the defense team remained.

Ibrahim stood and argued briefly with Abdel-Rahman, who repeatedly ordered him to sit down.

The chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Moussawi, then presented to the court a series of reports by the Mukharabat intelligence service detailing the wave of arrests launched after 1982 assassination attempt on Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail. The documents bore signatures he said were those of Saddam and Ibrahim, who was the head of the Mukharabat at the time.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for torture, illegal arrests and the killing of nearly 150 people from Dujail in the crackdown. They face death by hanging if convicted, reports the AP.


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