Final session of Saddam’s trial

Saddam was not in court since his summation was presented Wednesday by a court-appointed attorney because the defense team has boycotted the trial since last month to protest the killing of member Khamis al-Obeidi. He was the third defense lawyer slain since the trial began in October.

The prosecution has asked for the death penalty for Saddam and two of the other seven defendants for their role in the deaths of Shiites in a crackdown following a 1982 assassination attempt against the Iraqi ruler in Dujail.

The session opened with former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan saying he rejects the court-appointed lawyer. Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman said he could present his own summation.

The other defendant due to present a summation was Anwar al-Bandar, who presided over the revolutionary court that sentenced Shiites in Dujail to death or imprisonment in the crackdown, the AP reports.

After the summations are complete, the five-judge panel will adjourn to consider a verdict. That could come as early as mid-August, but an American legal expert who has been advising the court said it was more likely in the fall.

Following Wednesday's session, Michael A. Newton, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt University law school, praised the performance of Saddam's court-appointed lawyer, saying his argument "was solid and based on law."

Speaking to reporters at the court Thursday before the beginning of the trial, Newton described the lawyers as "courageous" and said their role ensured "the due process of a fair trial."