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Saddam back in court after month-long trial boycott

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein attended trial proceedings [JURIST news archive] Wednesday for the first time since the prosecution called for the death penalty [JURIST report] during closing arguments in June. In a statement to Presiding Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile], Hussein asked to be executed by firing squad rather than hanging and complained that he had come to trial proceedings against his will. The trial resumed in Baghdad on Monday [JURIST report], though the former Iraqi leader was not in court because of his weekend hospitalization [JURIST report] after collapsing in jail [LA Times report]. He was on the 16th day of a hunger strike [JURIST report] protesting trial procedures and a lack of adequate security for defense lawyers. An appointed lawyer [JURIST report] delivered a summation for Hussein on Wednesday because several members of the defense team have pledged to boycott [Reuters report; JURIST report] trial proceedings until the Iraqi High Tribunal meets their demand for a fair trial and increases security measures for the defense team.

The court has now heard final statements from six of the eight defendants, who are accused of crimes against humanity [JURIST report] for allegedly killing, torturing and illegally detaining Dujail residents, including executing 148 Shiites [JURIST report], and for committing other inhumane acts after an alleged 1982 assassination attempt on Hussein's life. If Hussein is sentenced to death, the execution could be suspended until after several other trials relating to his former regime. A second trial, involving the so-called "Anfal" operation [HRW backgrounder] that killed 100,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s, is scheduled to begin on August 21 [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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