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Saddam Hussein Is Thrown Out of Court

October 10, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Saddam Hussein and a co-defendant were thrown out of court Tuesday after the former leader began to shout during his trial on charges of genocide against Iraq’s Kurdish population.

Saddam interrupted the proceedings by shouting a verse from the Quran.

``Fight them and God will punish them!″ he yelled.

The chief judge, Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, cut off the microphone and instructed bailiffs to escort the ex-president out of the courtroom.

Co-defendant Hussein Rashid Mohammed them stood up and shouted insults at the prosecutors. When a bailiff forced the defendant back into his chair, the former army commander threw a punch.

The judge had Mohammed thrown out and closed the session to the media.

Before the closure, the judge told Saddam’s six co-defendants that he had been patient with them, but they were obstructing the trial.

``I allowed you to say what you want, but you’ve been making problems,″ he said solemnly.

Court-appointed lawyers represented Saddam and his co-defendants.

The lawyers chosen by Saddam and his co-defendants are boycotting the trial to protest the dismissal of the first chief judge, and the court’s refusal to allow the defense time to examine thousands of documents.

The court on Monday heard testimony about burying prisoners alive and sexually abusing female detainees.

Saddam and his six co-defendants have been on trial since Aug. 21 for their roles in a bloody 1987-88 crackdown against Kurdish rebels. Saddam and his cousin ``Chemical″ Ali al-Majid are charged with genocide, and the others are accused of various war crimes offenses. All could face death by hanging if convicted.

The defendants are represented by court-appointed lawyers because their own attorneys have boycotted proceedings since Sept. 24. They are protesting the dismissal of the first chief judge, who was seen as soft on Saddam, and the court’s refusal to allow the defense time to examine thousands of documents.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the court heard a Kurdish woman, who testified from behind a curtain to conceal her identity, recount that women were raped and children died in detention during the 1988 campaign.

Upon her request, the chief judge cut off the microphones after she was asked if she knew of any cases of pregnancy and abortion in her detention camp.

Reporters in court said they heard a brief part of her testimony in which she said she saw wardens in the detention camp take women away at night, apparently to rape them. No other details were immediately available.

The woman, who spent 6 1/2 months in detention, also claimed that Saddam’s forces used chemicals against the detainees.

``One evening, men walked into our detention hall, wearing (chemical) suits and masks and sprayed us with a material that caused the spread of lice and other diseases, like bronchial coughing,″ she said in Kurdish through an Arabic interpreter.

``Many children died as a result,″ said the woman.

The witness also testified that pregnant women were treated inhumanely. She said one woman had given birth in a toilet. Fellow detainees helped her ``cut the umbilical cord with broken glass and the baby was wrapped in a grain sack.″

She said all her family members disappeared in 1988 and are presumed dead.


Bushra Juhi reported from Baghdad and Jamal Halaby from Amman, Jordan. Some material in this story came from a pool report at the trial in Baghdad.

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