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Saddam lawyers to boycott Monday's hearing

Dulaimi criticised the new judge, saying Khalifa graduated only in 2004 and does not have the experience.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2006 18:23 IST

Saddam Hussein's defence team will boycott the next hearing on Monday morning, in protest at what they say is government pressure on the court trying him on genocide charges, his lead Iraqi lawyer said on Sunday.

"In light of the latest developments, and 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 said.

Last week, the Iraqi government sacked chief judge Abdullah al-Ameri after he said Saddam was not a dictator, replacing him with Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah, a Shiite who was deputy presiding judge.

The removal of Ameri 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," Dulaimi said.

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

Dulaimi nevertheless criticised the competence of the new judge, saying 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," Dulaimi said without providing further details.

First Published: Sep 24, 2006 18:23 IST