Saddam and defendants demand removal of judge as trials continue on

By Hamza Hendawi The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Prosecutors produced documents and put former aides to Saddam Hussein on the stand yesterday as they made their strongest attempt yet to link him directly to torture and executions.

The ousted president, who looked disheveled and appeared in his slippers, shouted “Down with Bush!”

Saddam’s half brother, Barzan Ibrahim – dressed only in an undershirt and long underwear – struggled with guards as he was pulled into the courtroom. Ibrahim, the former chief of intelligence, then sat on the floor with his back to the judge in protest for much of the session.

The defendants have rejected court-appointed attorneys named to replace their own lawyers who walked out of the trial last month, and are demanding the removal of chief judge Rouf Abdel-Rahman. In Jordan, Saddam’s chief defense lawyer said there were no plans to end the boycott and denounced the court for forcing the former leader to attend.

“This is a cheap attitude,” Khaled al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press.

After the raucous start, prosecutors tried to prove Saddam’s role in a wave of arrests and executions that followed a 1982 attempt on his life in the Shiite village of Dujail.

Twenty-six prosecution witnesses have testified since the Saddam trial began Oct. 19, many providing accounts of torture and imprisonment in the crackdown, but they could not directly pin them on Saddam.