[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] admitted in court Wednesday that he had ordered the trial of a group of Shiites who were executed under his regime in the 1980s and that he had ordered that their land be confiscated, but he also asserted that his actions were not criminal. Speaking at the close of proceedings at his trial [JURIST news archive] Wednesday at the Iraqi High Criminal Court – formerly the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website], Hussein told the judges that he was acting as a head of state and that his actions were a justified response to the 1982 assassination attempt on his life. Hussein said that he should be the only one on trial, and that his seven co-defendants were just following his orders as Iraqi president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.
Hussein's 15-minute speech just before chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] was about to adjourn proceedings came at the close of an otherwise calm day. Hussein, whose outbursts have continually disrupted proceedings [JURIST report] since the trial began last October, remained silent as prosecutors continued to present evidence that linked Hussein and his seven co-defendants to a crackdown on villagers in Dujail [JURIST report] following a 1982 assassination attempt on Hussein. On Tuesday, prosecutors introduced an execution order [JURIST report] signed by Hussein approving the hanging of 148 Shiites, who chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi says never were brought to court for trial. Wednesday's evidence focused mainly on Hussein's co-defendants. One of Hussein's lawyers who walked out on proceedings the day before returned to court Wednesday. Khalil Dulaimi and Khamis al-Obeidi walked out Tuesday after Abdel-Rahman refused a defense request [JURIST report] to remove himself and the chief prosecutor from the trial. Al-Obeidi attended the trial session [BBC report] but Dulaimi, Hussein's chief lawyer, was absent. The trial has now been adjourned until March 12. AP has more.