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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 13:12 GMT
'Execution memo' at Saddam trial
Saddam Hussein in court
Saddam and seven co-defendants took their places quietly
Prosecutors at the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein have presented a memo allegedly showing his approval of the execution of 148 Shias.

They said he signed to approve the killings after a failed attempt to assassinate him in Dujail in 1982.

His defence team reappeared after a month-long boycott but two lawyers caused new disarray by walking out when the judge refused a postponement.

The trial was resuming after two weeks and has been adjourned until Wednesday.

Its resumption was marked by the death of at least 30 people in bomb attacks in Baghdad and a bomb that exploded at a mosque at the grave of Saddam Hussein's father in Tikrit.

Requests denied

The chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Moussawi, displayed a memo, dated 14 June 1984, on a court screen said to contain Saddam Hussein's signature approving the death sentences of the 148 Iraqi Shias from Dujail.

We are not against the judge as a person... Our problem is with the judge's behaviour
Khamis al-Obeidi
Defence lawyer

Another paper dated two days earlier, announcing the death sentences, was allegedly signed by co-defendant Awad al-Bandar.

"None of the defendants [from Dujail] were brought to court. Their statements were never recorded," Mr Moussawi said.

Earlier, on resumption of the trial, the defence team quickly filed a motion for chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman to be disqualified on the grounds of bias and for the removal of the chief prosecutor.

Saddam father mosque in Tikrit
A mosque at Saddam's father's grave was damaged on Tuesday

The team also called for a postponement of the trial.

Judge Rahman refused all the requests, prompting top defence lawyers Khalil al-Dulaimi and Khamis al-Obeidi to walk out.

However, the rest of the defence team appeared to remain and there was confusion over Mr Dulaimi and Mr Obeidi, who were replaced by court-appointed lawyers.

The defendants initially all took their places quietly, in marked contrast to two weeks ago when Saddam Hussein shouted "Down with Bush", and he and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti continued a stormy exchange with the judge.

However, after the lawyers' walkout, Barzan al-Tikriti began another heated exchange with Judge Rahman, saying he did not want to be represented by the court appointed defence lawyer.

Analysts say the retention of the defence team is important if the trial is to be perceived as credible and fair.

The court has so far heard 26 prosecution witnesses.

The eight defendants deny all the charges. Saddam Hussein this week ended a reported hunger strike, undertaken in protest at alleged court bias.




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