The trial was delayed to allow time to find replacements for two defence lawyers who were slain and another who fled from the country after he was wounded.

Chief Judge Rizgar Muhammad Amin issued the order on Monday over objections of the prosecution after the court reconvened following a lunch break as the trial resumed after a five-week break.

The court had provided replacements for the three lawyers.

But former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan rejected his court-appointed counsel and insisted on the right to choose his own.

After the judge announced the adjournment, defence lawyers protested that they needed more time and suggested 30 days.

The judge suspended the proceedings for about 10 minutes and then announced that the 5 December date stands.

Saddam's half brother and fellow defendant Barazan Ibrahim also complained that he had not received proper medical treatment since being diagnosed with cancer, and that this condition amounted to "indirect murder".

Saddam then complained that he had written three or four memos to the judge since the 19 October session but received no response. The judge said he was unaware of the memos.