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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 July 2005, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Saddam 'attacked' during hearing
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein
No date has been set for Saddam Hussein's trial
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was attacked by an unidentified man after questioning by the Iraqi special tribunal on Thursday, his lawyers say.

The former president was attacked as he was leaving the courtroom, and there was an exchange of blows, his legal team said in a statement.

However, a US military spokeswoman denied that any such incident happened.

Saddam Hussein was being questioned about the suppression of Kurdish and Shia uprisings in 1991.

The former leader's alleged role in putting down the uprising is one of several accusations that are expected to form the basis of his trial.

Also in Iraq on Saturday, two British security contractors were killed in an attack in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

And police in northern Iraq say the number of people who died when a suicide bomber blew himself up at an army recruitment centre in Mosul on Friday has risen to more than 40.

Firm denial

Saddam Hussein's legal team said the incident occurred as he stood to leave the courtroom.

"One of those present attacked him and there was an exchange of blows between the man and the president," the statement said.

Nothing like that happened with Saddam whatsoever
Lt Kristy Miller
US military

The defence team said it would now boycott the tribunal or any interrogation committee until Saddam Hussein was given the right to proper legal representation by a team of international lawyers.

The legal team did not "recognise the authority of the court and all the bodies that were interrogating Saddam as it had no legal authority", the statement added.

However, a spokeswoman for detainee operations in Iraq said that the incident did not take place.

"Nothing like that happened with Saddam whatsoever," Lt Kristy Miller told the Reuters news agency.

The former Iraqi president was ousted by US-led forces and captured in December 2003.

So far, he has only been formally charged in relation to the killing of Shia Muslims in the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad, in 1982,

However, he is also likely to face charges relating to the chemical attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988.


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