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Saddam's lawyers call for delay in trial
Updated: 2006-02-27 09:17

The trial has been dogged by the assassination of two defense lawyers, replacement of the chief judge and criticism by international human rights groups questioning whether Saddam can get a fair trial in Iraq's polarized climate.

Al-Obeidi, the lawyer, said Saddam and some of his co-defendants had ended a hunger strike they started two days before the last trial session on Feb. 14. Members of the defense team also met with their clients for the first time in weeks, he said, without giving a specific day.

He added that members of the defense team planned to return to court when the trial resumes.

The court said Wednesday that the lawyers would be allowed back to defend their clients, reversing a decision taken after they walked out of the trial Jan. 29, accusing chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman of bias against Saddam.

Court-appointed lawyers were named to replace the defense team, but Saddam and other defendants have rejected them.

The trial has been repeatedly disrupted since it began. The first chief judge stepped down last month amid charges of political interference in the case and criticism accusing him of failing to control the proceedings. Two defense attorneys have been assassinated.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi, who confirmed that some of the defense lawyers met with their clients recently, said the next trial session will include reading the testimony of six witnesses and presenting more documentary evidence.

The court has heard 26 prosecution witnesses, mostly recounting their imprisonment and torture at the intelligence service headquarters in Baghdad, Abu Ghraib prison and a desert detention camp near the Saudi border.

None linked Saddam directly to their ordeal, but some witnesses identified his half brother Barzan Ibrahim, who also is on trial, as having personally taken part in their torture.

Another defendant, former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was linked by witnesses to the destruction of Dujail's orchards and farm fields.

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