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UPDATE ~ First live witness takes stand in Saddam trial

[JURIST] Following a brief recess prompted by a defense team walkout [JURIST report] and an emotional outburst from Saddam Hussein, the trial of the former Iraqi dictator and seven co-defendants resumed Monday afternoon with the testimony of Ahmed Hassan Mohammed [BBC report], an eyewitness to the 1982 Dujail torture and murders [JURIST report] for which the defendants are charged. Mohammed took the stand for the prosecution and detailed the killing of 148 people in Dujail in 1982, saying that the Iraqi forces used a mincing machine on live bodies and killed one of his friends by breaking his limbs and shooting his feet and calling the events "doomsday." Following Mohammed's testimony, Hussein interrupted the court, and said that he was not afraid of execution [AP report] and said that he believed there was pressure on the court and witnesses. Hussein and his co-defendants are charged with murder, torture, forced expulsions and illegal imprisonment stemming from the 1982 massacre. If convicted, all could face the death penalty. Mohammed is the first witness to take the stand in open court, but judges and lawyers have already heard testimony from Waddah al-Sheikh [JURIST report; AP transcript], a former intelligence officer who investigated the assassination attempt on Hussein that allegedly led to the Dujail massacre. Al-Sheikh provided testimony from his hospital bed before dying of cancer; a videotape was played during a court session last week [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.

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