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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Iraq trial resumes without Saddam
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Saddam has been protesting over the attacks on his lawyers
The trial of Saddam Hussein has resumed in Baghdad without the former Iraqi leader who is ill in hospital.

Saddam Hussein was taken to hospital on Sunday as a result of a hunger strike, which he reportedly began on 7 July in protest at the murder of his lawyer.

The entire defence team also boycotted the hearing, claiming their demands for a fair trial had not been met.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial charged with crimes against humanity. They all deny the charges.

"The decision of the lawyers to boycott the hearing is designed to generate publicity and thwart the course of justice," Chief Judge Raouf Abdel Rahman said.

He also accused Saddam Hussein's former intelligence chief and half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti - who did attend court on Monday - of having blood on his hands.

"Enough blood. Your hands have been saturated with blood since your childhood," Mr Rahman said.

The session heard a closing statement from a court-appointed lawyer representing Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, who said he refused to accept the lawyers nominated by the court.

Mr Tikriti is also said to be taking part in the hunger strike.

'Stable condition'

The judge adjourned the case until Wednesday, when he said he hoped lawyers for the defendants would come to present their case.

The lawyers acting for co-defendants Taha Yassin Ramadan and Awad Hamad al-Bandar are due to give their final summations, followed by those acting for Saddam Hussein and Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti.

Lawyers for the four other defendants have already presented their summations.

Once the final statements have been made the trial will be suspended while the five-judge panel considers its verdict, which is expected by mid-August.

A patch of blood shows the spot where Saddam Hussein's lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi was shot dead in June
Three defence lawyers have been murdered during the trial
Court spokesman Raed Juhi said Saddam Hussein's condition was stable.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi has said the 68-year-old ousted leader is being fed through a tube.

Saddam Hussein and three co-defendants are believed to have begun their latest hunger strike more than two weeks ago.

They are protesting against procedures at the tribunal, and also demanding better security for defence lawyers.

Three members of the defence team have been murdered during the course of the trial - most recently senior lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi, shot dead in June.

The prosecution has called for the execution of the former president and two others for the deaths of 148 villagers during a crackdown in the village of Dujail after an assassination attempt in 1982.

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