The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial threw the former president out of the courtroom Monday in a stormy session boycotted by his lawyers. "I have a request here that I don't want to be in this cage any more," Saddam said. He waved a yellow paper before he spoke to chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa.
Al-Khalifa snapped back: "I'm the presiding judge. I decide about your presence here. Get him out!" He pointed to guards to take Saddam out. "You need to show respect to the court and the case, and those who don't show it, I'm sorry, but I have to apply the law," al-Khalifa said, according to the AP.
The exchange started when Sabri al-Douri, director of military intelligence under Saddam, referred to a fellow co-defendant - Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai - by his former rank of lieutenant general.
The judge then said that the defendants could not be referred to by their former rank.
An angry Saddam then insisted that he be allowed to leave and the judge ordered him out of the courtroom.
Later, al-Douri and another defendant, Farhan Mutlak Saleh - former head of an intelligence branch - complained to the judge about the court-appointed attorneys. "Did I dismiss your attorney?" the judge asked him. "He (the attorney) just walked out!"
The two defendants were questioning the fairness of the trial with court-appointed attorneys. The judge told Saleh that he will be given time with his court-appointed attorney to plan the defense. Saleh said: "Good, that's all I ask."
Another defendant, Saddam's cousin "Chemical" Ali al-Majid, also rejected his court-appointed lawyer. "I refuse such an attorney, who cannot defend me," he said. "We agree that you can contact your original attorney or hire new ones," the judge said. "I am here against my will and by force," the defendant answered.
He also accused the judge of leading the witness. "Would you allow me to walk out of the session because I expect the verdict to be political and prearranged?" he asked. But the judge didn't reply and called in a second witness to the stand.
The stormy hearing was later adjourned until Tuesday after the court heard three Kurdish give testimony in the case.