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Saddam boycotts trial with key lawyers as defense closing arguments begin

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein, along with several co-defendants and defense lawyers, boycotted trial proceedings [JURIST news archive] Monday at the Iraq High Tribunal as the defense was scheduled to begin closing arguments. The court did hear from a lawyer for defendant Ali Dayih Ali, but Hussein sent a letter to the court saying "the tribunal is lacking in all procedures established by international and Iraqi law." Other defense lawyers, including lead defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, said they would boycott proceedings until the court provides "adequate protection to the Iraqi lawyers and their families." A third lawyer from the defense team was murdered [JURIST report] last month, just days after the prosecution presented closing arguments, calling for the death penalty [JURIST reports] for Hussein and three other defendants. The defense also requested that proceedings be adjourned to allow time to recover from the disruption caused by the latest murder, but chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] denied the request. Lawyers will present closing arguments for each of the eight defendants and then the court will hear statements from each defendant as well.

In the case currently being heard by the court, Hussein and his seven co-defendants are accused of crimes against humanity [JURIST report] for killing, torturing and illegally detaining Dujail residents, including executing 148 Shiites [JURIST report], and for committing other inhumane acts in response to an alleged 1982 assassination attempt on Hussein's life. If he is sentenced to death, Hussein's execution could be suspended until he completes several other trials relating to his former regime. A second trial, relating to the so-called "Anfal" operation [HRW backgrounder] that killed 100,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the 1980s, will begin on August 21 [JURIST report]. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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