BAGHDAD,(Reuters) – Saddam Hussein returned to court on Tuesday but his trial was quickly thrown into fresh disarray when his lawyers walked out after their pleas for an adjournment and the removal of the judge were rejected.
Chief defence attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi and Khamis al-Obeidi staged a walkout after their attempts to win an adjournment and the expulsion of the chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman on grounds of bias were turned down.
Saddam’s fiery half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti joined in with a heated verbal exchange with Abdel-Rahman, whose impartiality has been questioned by the defence because he is a Kurd from Halabja, a Kurdish village allegedly gassed by the former Iraqi leader’s forces in 1988.
“I don’t want the appointed lawyer,” shouted Barzan, once one of the most feared men in Saddam’s Iraq.
Officials said court-appointed lawyers would defend Saddam, as they had done since a previous walkout a month ago.
Saddam ended a hunger strike for “health reasons”, lawyers said, before returning to the trial that has been troubled by charges of olitical bias and killings of two defence attorneys.
Hours before the latest chaos in court, a bomb attack damaged a shrine Saddam had built over his father’s grave in Tikrit, the ex-president’s hometown north of Baghdad.