Trial delayed as Saddam refuses to attend
Updated: 2005-12-07 17:25
Saddam Hussein's trial was delayed Wednesday after the ousted president
refused to attend the session, court officials said. Defense lawyers huddled
with the judges in hopes of resolving the latest test of wills in the
An angry Saddam threatened at the end of the Tuesday court session to
boycott the next day's proceedings after complaining that he and the seven other
co-defendants had been mistreated by the "unjust court."
Court officials on Wednesday said Saddam was sticking by his vow, and the
judges were trying to decide whether to proceed without him.
If the differences cannot be resolved, an official said the court might hold
a closed session to search for solutions.
Saddam's threat not to attend the Wednesday session came at the end of a
daylong session in which five witnesses ¡ª two women and three men ¡ª related the
events of a 1982 crackdown on Shiite Muslims. The most dramatic testimony came
from a woman who spoke behind a beige curtain and with her voice disguised.
She told of beatings, torture and sexual humiliation at the hands of security
agents when she was a teenager.
At the end of the Tuesday session, the judges agreed over defense objections
to meet again the following day. Saddam shouted that "I will not come to an
unjust court! Go to hell!"
Saddam, dressed again in a dark suit and white shirt and clutching a Quran,
complained that he and the seven other defendants were tired and had been
deprived of opportunities to shower, have a change of clothes, exercise or go
for a smoke.
"This is terrorism," he declared.
Throughout the trial, which began Oct. 19, Saddam has repeatedly staged
confrontations with the court and attempted to take control of the proceedings
with dramatic rhetorical flourishes.
Saddam and the others are charged in the deaths of more than 140 Shiite
Muslims in retaliation for an assassination attempt against him in the town of
Dujail in 1982. Saddam accused Iran of ordering the attempt on his life.
Five witnesses ¡ª two women and three men ¡ª testified Tuesday in the fourth
session of the trial, all of them hidden from the public view and with their
voices disguised to protect their identities.
The most compelling testimony came from the woman identified only as "Witness
A," who was a 16-year-old girl at the time of the crackdown. Her voice breaking
with emotion, she told the court of beatings and electric shocks by the former