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Saddam and defense lawyers continue boycott as trial resumes

[JURIST] The Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] resumed in Baghdad Wednesday with Hussein, four co-defendants, and defense lawyers boycotting the proceedings [JURIST report] in protest against the new chief judge. Ra'uf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] was named chief judge after Rizgar Mohammed Amin [JURIST news archive] resigned [JURIST report] earlier this month. At the last trial session Sunday, Abdel-Rahman promised stricter courtroom control [JURIST report] but the strategy produced chaos. Wednesday's session at the Iraqi High Criminal Court - formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] - began with a half-hour closed hearing [AP report] to deal with "procedural issues", according to the court, though it is not clear who was present for that part of the session. Proceedings were then opened to the public, and Abdel-Rahman said that a five-judge panel would consider a prosecutorial request to force all defendants to attend the trial. He also told the remaining three defendants, whose lawyers were boycotting the session, that defense lawyers would be appointed to represent them so long as the boycott continued.

Also Wednesday, Hussein's defense team continued their push to have Abdel-Rahman sacked [JURIST report] due to the judge's alleged bias. Khaled al-Dulaimi said Wednesday that Abdel-Rahman had been tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison during Hussein's regime and that the judge had belonged to a Kurdish opposition party that "was an enemy" to Hussein. There have also been reports that Abdel-Rahman had been detained and tortured by Hussein's security agents in the 1980s. AP has more.

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