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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Anger erupts in Saddam courtroom
Barzan al-Tikriti resisted as he was dragged from the court
One of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants, former Iraqi intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti has been thrown out of court as their trial resumed in Baghdad.

Mr Tikriti was dragged from the court by security guards after angry exchanges with the chief judge.

Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants are being tried for crimes against humanity in connection with the deaths of 148 Shia villagers in the 1980s.

Recent sessions have been taken up with testimony from defence witnesses.

We want to work for justice, but that can only happen by having a fair trial and, under the current circumstances, that doesn't seem possible
Defence lawyer Curtis Doebbler
On Monday, the court resumed after a week's adjournment with the defence seeking more time for preparation.

US lawyer Curtis Doebbler complained the defence was "at a serious disadvantage" because of the handling of the trial.

"We want to work for justice, but that can only happen by having a fair trial and, under the current circumstances, that doesn't seem possible," Mr Doebbler said.

He added that it took the prosecution more than five months to present its case, while the defence is being "rushed" to conclude within weeks.

"Our witnesses have been intimidated by the court and have been assaulted," Mr Doebbler added.

Intimidation

The accused were all present at the court when the session got under way, relayed as usual to the outside world via video link with a short delay.

Saddam Hussein in court on 29 May 2006
Saddam Hussein could face the death penalty if convicted
However, Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti was ordered out of the courtroom after repeatedly interrupting the chief judge, Rauf Abdel Rahman.

He accused the judge of being a "dictator" who had made two of his former bodyguards "frightened to testify".

"You are the frightening one," the judge retorted, before ordering him to be thrown out.

The defendant struggled with guards, who pushed him into a wall as he tried to free arms from their grip.

"They are beating him in front of your eyes, right at the door," defence lawyer Muhammad Munib shouted at the judge.

"How can we ask you to protect the defendant when they beat him right in front of you?"

Barzan is known for his angry outbursts in court and has been ejected on several occasions.

Witnesses arrested

Last week, the court announced that four witnesses had been arrested for accusing the prosecutor of trying to bribe them to give false evidence.

Judge Abdel Rahman clarified the court's position on Monday, saying: "We reached a decision that these witnesses were lying and we took action against them."

In the previous session, the defence disputed whether 15 people from the list of 148 dead in Dujal were executed. It said 10 were still alive and five had since died.

Correspondents say the witness testimony could be wrapped up soon, with the defence lawyers and defendants then allowed to make their closing statements.

The judges could then give their verdict as early as next month.

Conduct of the trial has been criticised by international legal experts and has been marred by the killing of two defence lawyers and the resignation of the first chief judge in January.

The defence began presenting its evidence in May, after the completion of the prosecution case. The trial began last October.

The eight accused have either pleaded not guilty or have refused to enter a plea because they say they do not recognise the court's authority.


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