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Saddam absent from court as Iraq trial resumes

[JURIST] The Saddam Hussein trial [JURIST news archive] resumed in Baghdad on Monday, though the former Iraqi leader was not in court due to his weekend hospitalization [JURIST report] after collapsing in jail [LA Times report] on the sixteenth day of his hunger strike protesting trial court procedures and a lack of adequate security for defense lawyers. Defense closing arguments were scheduled to continue Monday at the Iraqi High Tribunal, but several defense lawyers boycotted proceedings prompting one of Hussein's co-defendants, Barzan al-Tikriti, to reject his court-appointed lawyer. Closing arguments have already been delayed due to boycotts, and earlier this month presiding Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] said he would appoint lawyers [JURIST report] to present the remaining closing arguments if the defense team continued to refuse to appear in court. Al-Tikriti told the court Monday that he was present against his will and urged the judge to let him leave the courtroom.

Hussein and his seven co-defendants are charged with crimes against humanity [JURIST report] for allegedly killing, torturing and illegally detaining Dujail residents, as well as committing other inhumane acts, in response to an alleged 1982 assassination attempt on Hussein. Prosecutors have called for the death penalty [JURIST report] in the case. Reuters has more.

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