Iraq: Trial resumes without Saddam; Defense team demands that chief judge step down
The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein resumed today without the the presence of Saddam, who, along with his defemse team, was absent from the courtroom.
The session was opened to the public following an initial half-hour closed session, in which no press was allowed.
However, Saddam and four other defendants boycotted the proceedings, and did not appear when the public was allowed in.
Leading the boycott was Khalil Dulaimi, the chief defense lawyer, who accused the current head judge in the trial of bias against Saddam Hussein.
He told Reuters on Wednesday that the defense team would not appear at Wednesday's planned proceedings unless Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman was replaced.
Judge Rahman was recently appointed the court's head judge on temporary basis following the resignation of the former head judge after accusations that he was too lenient.
Rahman is from the town of Halabja, in which 5,000 residents, including several of his family members, were killed after being attacked by chemical weapons in 1988 by Saddam's forces.
He is also a member of an opposition Kurdish Iraqi party and had been sentenced twice in absentia by courts under Saddam Hussein.
"We cannot attend any trial session unless the chief judge resigns because he holds a personal grudge against my client," Dulaimi said, adding that Rahman's resignation was a condition for the team's cooperation in any future proceedings.
The trial was rescheduled for today following its unexpected suspension last Sunday due to disorder in the court
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)