Judge ejects Saddam's lawyer

The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants over the execution of 148 Shia villagers resumed on Monday with the ejection of one of Saddam's lawyers.

    Saddam opened Monday's session with defiant statements

    Bushra al-Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer, reappeared in court after a long absence - she had previously been thrown out of court early last month by Judge Rauf Abdel Rahman, who accused her of disrupting the proceedings.


    On Monday, an argument immediately broke out over her earlier ejection and the judge ordered her thrown out a second time. She was taken out of the courtroom screaming, tossing her robes at the judge.


    "You have to stick to the rules, you are a  lawyer, you should behave by the rules," the judge said.


    As his lawyer was being removed, Saddam rose and gave a defiant statement that has become characteristic of him in each trial session.


    "I am Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq," he said with a raised fist.


    "You were president, now you are the defendant," the judge replied.


    Al-Khalil was ordered out of the 
    court room (file)

    Witness testimony was expected on behalf of Awad al-Bandar, a former revolutionary court judge who sentenced the 148 Shia from Dujail to death after an attempt on Saddam's life in 1982.


    Last week, testimony was given by witnesses for four former local officials of Saddam's once-powerful Baath Party, accused of taking party in bloody reprisals that followed the assassination attempt.




    This week, testimony will start on behalf of Awad al-Bandar, a Baathist judge, Taha Yassin Ramadan, the former vice-president, Saddam's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, and Saddam himself.


    Monday's session was marked by the first public appearance of one of the defence witnesses. The witness Murshid Mohammed Jasim was a clerk at the revolutionary court which issued the death sentences on the 148 Shia.


    The witness spoke about the work at the court when al-Bandar presided over it. He said it was a court that abided by the law. 


    "It is not true that all cases in the revolutionary court used to end with death sentences," the witness said. 


    "The accused had all the rights and were defended by their lawyers, I am a judge and my deep conscience does not allow me to sentence someone under 20 to death."


    The witness tried to greet and hug Saddam Hussein before leaving the court room, but the judge refused to let him. 




    Al-Bandar asked the witness about his attitude in the court, saying: "Did I ever send any of the defence lawyers out of the court room when they used to speak out and get frustrated in their defence speeches?"


    The witness said: "No."


    Barzan said some of his witnesses 
    are jailed in southern Iraq

    An Egyptian lawyer present with the defence team protested about the eviction of his Lebanese colleague.


    "The right of defence is sacred. We have never seen in our whole career a lawyer ordered out of the court room like this. We should not be treated like this, we are defending those men who defended the honour of the nation, yes they are the honour of the nation," he said.


    The judge replied mockingly: "Calm down I am afraid such nervousness would harm your health, we sent your colleague out according to article 154."


    An Iraqi defence lawyer asked the judge's permission to read the text of article 154. "I would like to ask your highness to allow me to read article 154 so that you can tell us what our colleague had done wrong to get evicted according to this article," he said. 


    The judge refused the request.


    Jailed witnesses

    Saddam's half-brother, Sabaaui Ibrahim al-Hasan, also testified in Monday's session in favour of his brother, Barzan.


    Jasim was a clerk at the Iraqi
    revolutionary court 

    Barzan complained to the judge on Monday that some of his witnesses could not appear because they were in a US military prison in southern Iraq. He described as lies the charges that several people from Dujail died under torture by his agents.


    He won a muttered comment of approval from Saddam when he challenged the judge over the defendants' treatment by guards outside court. Demanding that Abdul Rahman speak to "your guys, the Americans" about it, the Kurdish judge, clearly irritated, shot back: "They are not 'my guys'."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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