Lawyers: Saddam, co-defendants to boycott
Updated: 2006-02-13 09:39
The dock at Saddam Hussein's trial will stand empty on Monday, according to
lawyers for the former Iraqi president, who said he and his seven co-defendants
will continue their boycott when proceedings resume.
The hearing will mark the latest troubled chapter in the trial of Saddam and
his co-defendants for the killing of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims after the former
ruler survived a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail north of
"As far as I know, neither the president and other defendants, nor the
defense team, will attend the resumed hearings of the illegal court, which is
biased in the case and can't give the defendants a fair trial," chief attorney
Khalil al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press in Amman, capital of neighboring
"We boycotted and we will not go back unless our demands are met," he said
Sunday. The defense team has called for the replacement of the trial's new chief
judge, Raouf Abdel-Rahman.
The defendant's doc remains empty after former
Iraqi President Saddam Hussien, his co-defendants, and defense team, do
not arrive for their trial in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.
In Baghdad, another defense lawyer, Khamis al-Obeidi, added: "Our boycott of
the trial continues. It's a show trial and our presence will give the court
legitimacy." Al-Obeidi spoke in Baghdad.
Judge Abdel-Rahman, a Kurd, took over last month after his predecessor
stepped down amid criticism over his handling of the trial, during which Saddam
and his half brother and one-time intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim hurled abuse
at witnesses and interrupted the proceedings.
The defense claims that Abdel-Rahman is unfit to try the case because he was
sentenced to life in absentia in the 1970s for anti-state activity. Saddam
became president in 1979, but was Iraq's most powerful man for several years
In his first session in charge on Jan. 29, Abdel-Rahman tried to restore the
court's authority by ejecting one defense lawyer, prompting the rest to leave in
protest. Saddam and three co-defendants were also allowed to leave or forcibly
removed, and the judge appointed replacement defense lawyers.
In the following session Feb. 1, only three defendants attended; none showed
up the next day.
Monday's session is expected to include testimony from former regime figures
and the presentation of documents allegedly indicating the ousted ruler's
knowledge of the torture and execution of Shiite Muslims from Dujail, court
officials have said.
Twenty-six prosecution witnesses have testified since the trial began Oct.
19, many detailing torture and imprisonment but none directly linking Saddam to
Prosecutors are expected to submit the first of hundreds of documents
implicating Saddam in every step of the investigation, torture and death of the
The implications for a long-term absence by the defendants and their lawyers
is unclear. There are precedents in international law for trials to continue
without the defendants in the courtroom, including cases before the U.N.
International Criminal Tribunal for atrocities in Rwanda.
But it will likely raise questions about the proceedings' fairness, which
human rights groups criticized even before the trial began. Many observers
express skepticism that a fair trial could be held in Iraq so soon after the
2003 overthrow of Saddam's regime or in a country gripped by an insurgency,
which includes many Saddam loyalists.