Saddam trial set to resume on Wednesday
The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is set to resume on Wednesday with additional testimony of witnesses against Hussein and seven co-defendants. The accused are standing trial for the murder of some 140 people in the Iraqi village of Dujail in 1982, and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The trial was suspended on December 7 for two weeks following three days of dramatic court scenes, including Saddam denouncing the court and telling the judge to "go to hell."
People in attendance, however, said that the former leader apologized to the judge, and asked to be excused from the next session from which he was absent and promised to attend the following one.
Saddam and his legal representatives attempted to call off the trial, citing that the court was illegitimate since the US-backed Iraqi authority governing it was also illegitimate.
Witnesses offered testimony behind screens and with disguised voices to ensure their protection. The hearings for the remaining five witnesses are not expected to extend past Thursday, according to the AFP.
Jaafar Al Mussawi, a prosecutor in the trial, told reporters that the defense would present 40 witnesses in the coming sessions. However, the defense team quickly denied such reports, saying that it still considered the tribunal illegal.
The trial's defense lawyers include former US attorney general Ramsey Clark and Qatari minister of justice Najib Al Nuami. Two defense lawyers have been killed since the opening of the trial in October.
In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, residents showed their support for the ex-leader, while in Dujail, others called for his execution.
The trial is expected to be adjourned until mid-January following the upcoming session in honor of Christmas, New Year's, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in the second week of January, the announcement of Iraq’s election results.