Saddam Hussein Lawyers Walk Out of Trial

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 20 September 2006


BAGHDAD, Iraq_Saddam Hussein's lawyers walked out of his trial Wednesday to
protest the replacement of the chief judge, who had been accused of favoring
the defense.

The deposed leader protested and was ordered to leave the courtroom.

Defense lawyers questioned the impartiality of the trial when the session
began under Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa in place of Abdullah al-Amiri,
who was removed after he was accused of being too soft on the former Iraqi

Al-Amiri told Saddam last week in court that "you were not a dictator," and
an aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the judge's comments were one
reason for his replacement.

"The head of the court is requested to run and control the session, and he
is not allowed to violate judicial regulations, " Hussein al-Duri told
Al-Arabiya television. "It is not allowed for the judge to express his

When the session began Wednesday with al-Khalifa in charge, the defense
lawyers questioned the impartiality of the trial.

"We don't expect from this court established under the occupation
authorities to be fair, so we decided to withdraw from this trial," defense
lawyer Wadoud Fawzi told the court, reading a statement on behalf of the
defense team.

Saddam faces a possible death penalty if convicted on genocide charges over
a military offensive against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.

Al-Khalifa said replacing the chief judge was an "administrative matter,"
and that the court would appoint new counsel. Saddam said he wanted his
lawyers to stay and protested against court-appointed counsel.

"This is our personal right," Saddam shouted as he pointed his finger at the
judge and pounded his fist on the podium. "You must deal with us as the law

Al-Khalifa asked him to stop talking but Saddam refused, prompting the judge
to order him out of the courtroom. A fiery exchange ensued.

The deposed leader told the judge: "Your father was in the security (forces)
and he went on working as a sergeant in the security until the fall of
Baghdad" _ a reference to the 2003 U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam's

"I challenge you in front of the public if this is the case!" al-Khalifa

Saddam's cousin, "Chemical" Ali al-Majid, told al-Khalifa that he also
rejected court-appointed lawyers.

"I'll stay (in the courtroom), but I'll decline to say anything or defend
myself and I'll gladly accept any verdict, even if it's the death penalty."

The judge then resumed the session, calling in an elderly Kurdish witness to
take the stand.

The Iraqi High Tribunal, the country's supreme court, had asked for al-Amiri
to be replaced in a letter to al-Maliki, who approved it Tuesday, according
to an Iraqi government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because
he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Al-Amiri's comment angered many Kurds and Shiites, fueling their criticism
that he was too lenient with Saddam. Prosecutors in the trial already had
asked for al-Amiri to be replaced after he allowed Saddam to lash out at
Kurdish witnesses during a court session.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it was "very concerned" about
al-Amiri's removal.

"This appears to be improper interference in the independence of the
tribunal, and may greatly damage the court," the non-governmental
organization said.