Wednesday, February 01, 2006
AP: Saddam & lawyers boycott trial - Feb. 1
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer -- 7 minutes ago
BAGHDAD, Iraq -was not present at a new session of his trial Wednesday and his lawyers boycotted the proceedings, demanding the removal of the chief judge they claim is biased against the former Iraqi leader.
The session was opened to the public after Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman held a half-hour closed session, barring press and television from the courtroom. It was not clear whether Saddam was brought in for closed proceedings.
But the former Iraqi leader and four other defendants were not present when the public was allowed in. Only three defendants attended, with court-appointed defense lawyers.
Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi asked the judge to force all defendants to attend. Abdel-Rahman ruled that the court proceedings would continue, but that the request would be considered in the next hearings.
Saddam's defense team, headed by chief attorney Khaled al-Dulaimi, left, have said they would not attend the trial until Abdel-Rahman is removed. The former president and four co-defendants have refused to work with the replacement lawyers installed by Abdel-Rahman during a stormy session on Sunday.
Court officials would not immediately say what occurred in the morning's closed session.
Khaled al-Dulaimi who stayed in the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday, criticized the closed session and said he did not know if the formerleader was there.
"It's dangerous to hold a closed-door hearing. Our clients may be forced to attend, they may coerced and this is illegal," al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press. "The trial is unfair and the judge is acting on behalf of the prosecution, which means that he has lost impartiality."
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