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Saddam trial resumes as former ruler ends boycott of proceedings

[JURIST] The Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] resumed in Baghdad Wednesday, with the former ruler ending his boycott of court proceedings [JURIST report]. The Iraqi High Criminal Court (formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website]) heard testimony from its ninth witness, Ali Mohammed Hussan al-Haydari, who was 14 during the 1982 massacre in Dujail [JURIST report] and whose family was tortured. Hussein, who made frequent outbursts during earlier trial sessions, only interrupted proceedings twice - once to imply that the witness had not described Hussein with the proper respect and a second time to ask the court to break for prayer, which presiding Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin denied. Also Wednesday, Amin rejected a prosecution attempt to bar foreign lawyers from participating as part of Hussein's defense team. In November, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and former Qatari justice minister Najib al-Nuaimi joined the defense team [JURIST report]. Defense lawyers also repeated their security concerns. Two defense lawyers for Hussein's seven co-defendants [Reuters report] have been assassinated [JURIST report] since proceedings began. Meanwhile, Iraqi Justice Minister Abdel Hussein Shandal on Wednesday called the trial judges unqualified [SAPA report], saying that despite their foreign training, they have showed incompetence by refusing to deal with outbursts from Hussein and other defendants. Shandal criticized the court's failure to deal with "suspects who violated court procedures in public, some of whom offended the judges and the panel of public prosecution," but Amin defended his running of the court as "judicially legal". AP has more. BBC News provides additional coverage.

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