The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's trial said Tuesday's session would be the last day to hear defense witnesses, claiming he wants to quickly wrap up the proceedings despite defense complaints about being rushed.
One of Saddam's top co-defendants, Barzan Ibrahim, was absent after being thrown out of the court the day before for arguing with chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman. According to the AP, the judge said Tuesday that Ibrahim was being kept out "for his violations against the order of the court."
"This is the last session to hear the testimony of defense witnesses," Abdel-Rahman said. "We don't want speeches ... So chose one - speeches or hearing witnesses."
The court Tuesday heard a quick series of defense witnesses, including three former bodyguards of Saddam who were with him on the day of the shooting attack on his motorcade in Dujail back in 1982. They said Saddam ordered his guards to stop firing back when gunmen in a nearby palm grove shot at his car. "My understanding at that time the president did not want ... even an animal in the groves to be hurt by the bodyguards' fire," one of the witnesses said.
Another of the witnesses said some Dujail residents approached Saddam after the attack "and they were crying to apologize. I remember, he told them, 'They (the attackers) don't represent you, you are good people.'"