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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Saddam plea against being hanged
Saddam Hussein laughs in court
The ex-leader appeared to enjoy at least some of the day's proceedings
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has told his trial he wants to be shot not hanged if he is condemned to die.

Shooting was the appropriate means of execution for a military man like himself, he said.

Prosecutors want the death penalty for the ex-president, on trial with seven others for crimes against humanity. The defendants deny the charges.

Sources quoted by news agencies later said Saddam Hussein had ended a hunger strike by having lunch at the court.

"Saddam ate beef and rice and cola with bread which he brought from hospital," one source told Reuters news agency.

The former leader reportedly began the hunger strike on 7 July in protest at the killing of three of his lawyers.

You have to remember that Saddam is a military man and in this case the verdict should be death by shooting not by hanging
Saddam Hussein
Former Iraqi leader

A thinner-looking Saddam Hussein told Wednesday's hearing: "I was brought against my will directly from the hospital... The Americans insisted that I come against my will. This is not fair.

"Three days ago I was taken to hospital and today I was brought here forcibly from the hospital. I was fed intravenously and by a nasal drip," he said.

Execution

Later he spoke of his preference for facing a firing squad rather than a hangman's noose.

"I advise you as an Iraqi, if you were in a circumstance in which you have to issue a death penalty, you have to remember that Saddam is a military man and in this case the verdict should be death by shooting not by hanging," he told the judge.

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.

The BBC's Jane Peel in Baghdad says that during Wednesday's hearing, Saddam Hussein showed all his trademark defiance, at times interrupting and arguing with both the judge and a lawyer appointed by the court to act on his behalf.

Lawyer boycott

His defence team has been boycotting the trial to demand tighter security, after the deaths of their three colleagues, and replacement lawyers have been named.

Saddam Hussein told the chief judge he rejected the lawyers appointed by the court to defend him.

"Your honour, I refuse to appear before this tribunal, but this tribunal can do as it wills," he added.

Judge Abdel Rahman responded: "Your lawyers were informed of the hearing and they chose not to come, despite the fact that they have billions of dollars and sit in a neighbouring country, where they incite violence."

Most of Saddam Hussein's legal team is based in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The trial, which began in Baghdad last October, is in its closing stages. Prosecutors will be summing up their case after the defence summation procedure comes to an end.






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