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Defence resumes putting its case at Saddam trial

Written by: Staff
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Baghdad , Jun 5: The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-accused for crimes against humanity resumed in Baghdad today, with more defence witnesses taking the stand.

But Chief Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman told the court that four witnesses who were arrested last week on suspicion of making false allegations against the prosecution would not attend the session.

Defence lawyers, who started their case in mid-May, have accused the prosecution of trying to buy a witness and putting on the stand a man who perjured himself.

Saddam's lawyer Khalil Dulaimi yesterday said the court was bullying and intimidating the defence team and its witnesses.

He said the defence would lodge a complaint with the court and US authorities alleging ''gross harassment, mistreatment and beating'' of defence witnesses.

At the trial, which began in October, Saddam and the other seven defendants face charges in connection with the killings of 148 Shi'ite Muslims after an attempt on his life in the town of Dujail in 1982.

Today's session started with a witness for one of the lesser-known defendants, Ali Daeem Ali, a former local official of the Baath Party, which was dominated by Saddam's Sunni Arab minority.

''He was an academic for 25 years and he has no evil spirit,'' said the witness, speaking from behind a curtain to protect his identity.

The second witness also spoke from behind the curtain but still appeared to reveal her identity: ''I spent 39 years with him and we have eight children; he never wrote a report against anyone.'' All the accused were present in the heavily-protected Baghdad courtroom.

Judge Rahman told the court that it had so far heard 57 defence witnesses, including 19 for Saddam.

Some witnesses, including former senior allies of Saddam, have told the court there was a campaign of assassination attempts against the Iraqi leadership at the time.

The prosecution completed its case last month.

REUTERS

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