Saddam defence to boycott hearing

Saddam Hussein's defence team will boycott the next hearing on Monday in protest at what they say is government pressure on the court trying him on genocide charges.

    Al-Khalifa has been criticised by the defence

    "In light of the latest developments, and the fundamental mistakes made by the court before that, as well as the huge pressure the government has put on the court, the defence team has decided to boycott Monday's hearing," Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's lawyer, said on Sunday.

    Last week, the Iraqi government sacked chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri after he said Saddam was not a dictator, replacing him with Muhammad al-Oraibi al-Khalifaa, a Shia who was deputy presiding judge.

    The removal of al-Amiri caused uproar at the last hearing on Wednesday and prompted a walkout by the entire defence team, as well as a protest from Saddam - who was ejected from the court by the new judge.

    "The defence team will not recognise the legitimacy of this court and does not accept the tailor-made decision taken by the occupying forces," al-Dulaimi said.

    "It is not about this judge or that judge, but from day one we have protested over the legitimacy and the bias of this court."

    Al-Dulaimi, nevertheless, criticised the competence of the new judge, saying al-Khalifa graduated only in 2004 and "does not have the experience needed".

    "The defence team will mull its next move in consultation with our client," al-Dulaimi said without providing further details.

    Saddam and six of his former colleagues face charges including genocide for spearheading a military campaign against the Kurds in 1987-1988 that the prosecutors say left 182,000 dead.

    They face the death penalty if found guilty.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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