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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Saddam thrown out for third time
Saddam Hussein
Microphones were cut off as Saddam read a long statement
Saddam Hussein has been ejected from his trial in Baghdad for the third time in a week after defying instructions from the judge to be quiet.

The other six co-defendants were also ejected shortly afterwards following heated exchanges with the judge.

The trial later continued without the presence of the defendants or their lawyers, who are boycotting the trial.

The seven are accused of crimes against humanity in a 1980s offensive against the Kurds, and face the death penalty.

Saddam Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali", are also accused of genocide.

Tens of thousands of people are known to have died in the Anfal military campaign.

'Rights and obligations'

Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa had opened the proceedings with a stern lecture to the former Iraqi leader.

By disrespecting the court, you are only damaging your cause
Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa

"You are a defendant here. You have rights and obligations," he said. "You can defend yourself, question witnesses ... and I am ready to allow you, but this is a court, not a political arena.

"By disrespecting the court, you are only damaging your cause."

Saddam Hussein responded by reading out a 20-minute statement from a piece of paper, but courtroom microphones were cut off.

His outbursts continued and Chief Judge al-Khalifa ordered him out.

"You are a defendant and I'm a judge," he said. As the other defendants began to protest, he continued: "Shut up, no-one talk ... the court decided to eject Saddam Hussein from court."

Saddam Hussein left the court with a smile, reports say.

After further heated exchanges between the judge and the co-defendants, former Iraqi defence minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai was ordered out of the court, followed shortly afterwards by the other five defendants.

After a recess, the trial resumed without any of the defendants present, with Kurdish witnesses testifying before the court.

New judge

Saddam Hussein was also thrown out of the court on Monday after complaining about being confined in a metal pen where the defendants sit.

Defence lawyers walked out of the trial last Wednesday following the removal of the previous chief judge, Abdullah al-Amiri. The chief defendant was also thrown out on this occasion.

Judge al-Amiri was replaced following accusations of bias towards the former president. The lawyers vowed not to return until the government stopped "interfering" in the trial.

Court-appointed lawyers replaced the defence team at the trial when it resumed on Monday.

The trial has now been adjourned until 9 October to allow the defendants time to contact their lawyers or appoint new ones.

There was further violence in the country, with at least 12 people killed in series of blasts in and around Baghdad.

In one attack, a motorcycle exploded near restaurants in Andalus square in central Baghdad, killing at least four people.

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