Saddam trial to resume after new setbacks

Saddam and his seven co-defendants all boycotted the last hearing on February 2 in the latest dramatic twist.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 08:59 IST

The tumultuous trial of Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity resumes on Monday amid uncertainty over whether the former Iraqi dictator and his seven co-defendants will appear in court.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants all boycotted the last hearing on February 2 in the latest dramatic twist in the trial and it was unclear whether they would attend the latest session.

Prior to the start of the new hearing, the court, headed by chief judge Rauf Rasheed Abdel Rahman, was expected to consider whether the defendants be allowed, or forced, to attend the proceedings or not.

Adding further drama, a member of the Amman-based legal team of the defendants said on Sunday that the eight men had decided to stage a hunger strike to protest attempts to force them to appear in court.

But this was swiftly denied by Saddam's chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi who told a news agency in Amman: "All the reports about a hunger strike by Saddam and his co-defendants are without foundation."

All eight face the death penalty if convicted over the massacre of more than 140 Shiites after an attempt on Saddam's life in 1982. They pleaded not guilty on the first day of the trial in October.

Saddam has boycotted the trial since he walked out in late January after a verbal sparring match with new Kurdish chief judge Abdel Rahman, who also ejected his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti from the court.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 08:59 IST