The chief judge ordered a defense lawyer out of the courtroom and shouted down Saddam Hussein Monday at the start of a new session of the trial of the former Iraqi president and members of his regime.
It all started when Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman told defense lawyer Bushra Khalil that she would be allowed to return to the court after being removed during a session in April for arguing with the judge. But when she tried to make a statement, he quickly cut her off, saying, "Sit down."
"I just want to say one word," she said, but Abdel-Rahman yelled at the guards to take her away. According to the AP, Khalil pulled off her judicial robe and threw it on the floor, then tried to push away guards who were grabbing her hands, yelling, "Get away from me."
As she was pulled out of the court, Saddam objected from the defendants' pen, and Abdel-Rahman told him to shut up. "I'm Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq. I am above all," Saddam shouted back. "You are a defendant not, not a president," the judge barked.
After the outbursts Monday, the court resumed hearing defense witnesses. Saddam and seven former members of his regime face possible execution by hanging if convicted on charges of crimes against humanity in a crackdown against Shiites in the town Dujail in the 1980s.
Monday's first witness was a former employee of the Revolutionary Court, Murshid Mohammed Jassim, who testified on behalf of defendant Awad al-Bandar, the judge who sentenced the 148 to death. Abdel-Rahman has accused al-Bandar of convicting the Shiites without a proper trial, though al-Bandar has insisted the trial was fair.
Asked if the Revolutionary Court gave the defendants a full chance to defend themselves, Jassim said, "Yes, of course." He said the court did not try defendants without them and their lawyers being present.