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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 14:09 GMT
Saddam admits razing Dujail farms
Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants in court on 1 March 2006
Saddam Hussein is hearing further prosecution evidence
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has admitted razing the farms of those convicted of trying to kill him in an attempted assassination in Dujail.

He told the court he had signed papers ordering the destruction of farmland. He and seven aides deny killing 148 Shias in Dujail village in the 1980s.

Earlier, the chief prosecutor produced further documents and letters he said linked Saddam Hussein to the deaths.

The trial, which resumed amid fresh violence, was adjourned until 12 March.

Three bombs exploded in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing more than 20 people.

More than 60 people died in a wave of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday. A mosque at the grave of Saddam Hussein's father in Tikrit was also attacked.

Bullets

The former president admitted on Wednesday ordering the destruction of orchards belonging to villagers convicted over the failed attempt on his life in Dujail.

It is not my habit to pass the buck on to others
Saddam Hussein
"I razed them... we specified the farmland of those who were convicted and I signed," Saddam Hussein told the court.

He described seeing bullets pass before his eyes and argued ordering the seizure of the orchards was not a crime because the owners had tried to kill their head of state.

Saddam Hussein urged the court to free his fellow defendants, saying: "At the time I was in charge. It is not my habit to pass the buck on to others."

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi earlier used an overhead screen to show documents and letters he claims links the former president to the Dujail massacre.

Some documents showed four of the accused were executed by mistake, while two were released by mistake.

One document, purportedly from the Iraqi secret service, said nearly 50 of the accused had died during interrogation rather than by hanging.

The eight defendants deny all the charges.

Defence complaints

On Tuesday, Mr Moussawi showed the court a memo, dated 16 June 1984, which he claimed showed the former president's signature approving the executions.

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

The trial resumed on Tuesday after a two-week break, during which the 68-year-old former president said he was on hunger strike to protest against alleged court bias. He ended the strike at the weekend, citing health concerns.

As the trial got under way, the defence team again filed a motion for Judge Rahman to be disqualified, saying he would not give the defendants a fair trial.

Judge Rahman was born in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja, which came under a chemical gas attack from Saddam Hussein's forces in 1988. Around 5,000 Kurds died in a single day.

Mr Rahman refused all defence requests, prompting Saddam Hussein's top lawyers Mr Dulaimi and Khamis al-Obeidi to walk out.

Mr Obeidi reappeared in court on Wednesday.

The trial, which began in October, has so far heard 26 prosecution witnesses.


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