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Saddam defense alleges witness abuse as trial resumes

[JURIST] Defense lawyers in the Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] resumed their case Monday after chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] said that four defense witnesses accused of perjury last week had been arrested and could therefore not attend Monday's session. Hussein's defense team last week accused the prosecution [JURIST report] of trying to bribe one defense witness to testify against Hussein, and later stated that US and Iraqi officials had illegally detained the four witnesses [JURIST report]. Defense lawyers filed a protest [AP report] against the arrests Monday, and told the court that the witnesses had been beaten by Iraqi soldiers when taken into custody.

Monday's session began with two witnesses for one of Hussein's seven co-defendants, Ali Daeem Ali, testifying as character witnesses. Abdel-Rahman criticized the defense for not having any other witnesses prepared and adjourned the case until June 12. The defense team, which began its case in mid-May, has presented 57 witnesses, including 19 witnesses for Hussein, according to Abdel-Rahman. Hussein and his seven co-defendants are charged [JURIST report] with killing, torturing and illegally detaining Dujail residents in a crackdown prompted by an alleged 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

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