Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Saddam accuses trial chief judge of violating the law

AP , BAGHDAD

Saddam Hussein accused the chief judge in his genocide trial on Monday of violating the law by appointing defense attorneys against his wishes after the ex-president's own lawyer walked out of the proceedings.

Khalil al-Dulaimi stormed out of the courtroom shortly after he ended a monthlong boycott of the trial in which Saddam and six others are charged for their alleged roles in Operation Anfal, a crackdown against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.

Al-Dulaimi submitted a dozen motions, including one to allow foreign lawyers to attend the trial without permission of the court.

But chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa denied most of them, prompting the defense lawyer to announce that "I'm withdrawing" from the trial.

"I allow you to withdraw. Go ahead," the judge responded.

Al-Khalifa rebuked al-Dulaimi for insisting on referring to Saddam as president of Iraq.

"There is only one president here -- it's me, the court's president," the judge said.

Al-Dulaimi replied there was nothing in Iraqi law to bar him from using the title of "the legitimate president of Iraq."

After his lawyer left the courtroom, Saddam complained that the court had appointed replacement lawyers for him "despite our wish to be represented by our own attorneys."

He accused the court of violating the law, which he said stipulated that court-appointed attorneys are provided only for defendants who cannot afford counsel.

Despite the heated exchanges, the court heard testimony from four Kurdish witnesses who recounted the horrors of alleged chemical attacks during the Anfal crackdown.

Saddam and one another defendant, his cousin "Chemical Ali" al-Majid, are charged with genocide in the Anfal case. The other defendants are accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. All of them could be sentenced to death by hanging if convicted.

Saddam is expected to hear the verdict on Nov. 5 in the first trial against him stemming from the deaths of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims from the town of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt against him.

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