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UPDATE ~ Saddam trial adjourned until Dec. 21

[JURIST] Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] Chief Justice Rizgar Mohammed Amin on Wednesday adjourned proceedings in the Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] until December 21 in order to avoid holding hearings during the upcoming parliamentary elections. The court held a brief session Wednesday, hearing testimony from two prosecution witnesses who recounted their experiences during the 1982 massacre in Dujail [JURIST report]. According to the testimony, prisoners were interrogated and beaten at Baath Party headquarters then transported to Baghdad where they were further tortured and interrogated. The first witness also testified that Barazan Ibrahim, Hussein's brother and co-defendant, was present and issuing orders at the Baath Party headquarters but, upon further questioning, admitted that he was blindfolded at the time and believed Ibrahim was present based on the statements of other prisoners. Hussein was not present for the testimony [JURIST report], in protest mistreatment of an "unjust court". According to a statement from Hussein's defense lawyers Wednesday, the defendants have not been allowed private meetings with their lawyers and have otherwise been denied access to the necessary facilities and evidence to prepare their defense. A court official said that the Hussein had been excused from proceedings "on the basis of a certain request" and that Hussein is expected to attend the December 21 session. Before adjourning proceedings Wednesday, Amin agreed to meet with defense attorneys that to discuss the security of the lawyers. AP has more.

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