Saddam Hussein and a co-defendant were thrown out of court Tuesday after the former president started to shout during his trial on charges of genocide against Iraq's Kurdish population. Saddam interrupted the proceedings by shouting a verse from the Quran. ‘‘Fight them and God will punish them!'' he yelled.
The chief judge, Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, cut off the microphone and instructed bailiffs to escort the ex-leader out of the courtroom.
Co-defendant Hussein Rashid Mohammed then stood up and directed insults at the prosecutors. When a bailiff forced the defendant back into his chair, the former army commander threw a punch.
Before this incident, the judge told Saddam's six co-defendants that he had been patient with them, but they were obstructing the trial. ‘‘I allowed you to say what you want, but you've been making problems,'' he said.
In Tuesday's hearing, the court heard a Kurdish woman, who testified from behind a curtain to conceal her identity, recount that women were raped and children died in detention during the 1988 campaign.
Upon her request, the chief judge cut off the microphones after she was asked if she knew of any cases of pregnancy and abortion in her detention camp.
The woman, who spent 6 1/2 months in detention, also claimed that Saddam's forces used chemicals against the detainees. ‘‘One evening, men walked into our detention hall, wearing (chemical) suits and masks and sprayed us with a material that caused the spread of lice and other diseases, like bronchial coughing,'' she said. ‘‘Many children died as a result,'' added the woman.
The witness also testified that pregnant women were treated inhumanely. She said one woman had given birth in a toilet. Fellow detainees helped her ‘‘cut the umbilical cord with broken glass and the baby was wrapped in a grain sack.''