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Saddam thrown out of court for third consecutive time

[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] was thrown out of court Tuesday for the third time [JURIST report] by new chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the genocide trial [JURIST news archive] after the former chief judge was removed by the Iraqi government [JURIST report] last week. Oreibi opened Tuesday's hearing by telling Saddam that he would have to "behave" and then allowed him to read a 20-minute statement while the microphones to the press gallery were disabled. Two Kurdish witnesses testified next amidst vocal arguments by Saddam; the judge said he would not tolerate that and ejected Saddam from the courtroom. After a recess, the trial resumed but none of Saddam's six co-defendants returned to the courtroom, marking the first time in this trial that all the defendants have been absent from the courtroom at once. A court spokesman said afterwards that the other defendants had similarly been ejected.

Lawyers defending Saddam and his cohorts have been boycotting the trial [JURIST report] since Oreibi took over as chief judge last week. International legal rights groups have said the replacement may harm the credibility of the trial in which Saddam faces genocide charges [JURIST report] for the 1988 deaths of 180,000 Kurdish villagers in the so-called "Anfal" campaign [HRW backgrounder]. A verdict is also expected next month in Saddam's previous trial for crimes against humanity [JURIST report] in connection with the murder, torture and illegal arrest of hundreds of people in Dujail as part of a crackdown in the town after an assassination attempt on Hussein's life. In that case he is eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

3:35 PM ET - The trial has now been adjourned for two weeks until October 9 to provide time for the defendants to instruct court-appointed counsel or persuade their own lawyers to end their boycott of the proceedings. AP has more.

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