BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Saddam Hussein returned to court on Wednesday, the second day of hearings this week, with the prosecution attempting to prove the former Iraqi leader’s role in crimes against humanity in the 1980s.
All defendants were present alongside the defence team, except lead attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi.
Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi presented documents he said were death certificates of Shi’ites who were rounded up and executed following an assassination attempt on Saddam’s life in 1982.
He also presented a document which he said contained Saddam’s handwriting. The document, according to Moussawi, said four men had been executed by mistake and that two men had been released, also by mistake.
Looking more subdued than in previous rowdy proceedings, Saddam challenged the authenticity of the documents.
On Tuesday, after a two-week break during which the 68-year-old former president staged a hunger strike, prosecutors presented what they said was a death warrant signed by Saddam in 1984 for 148 men from the Shi’ite town of Dujail.
Prosecutors hope such documents can establish a direct link between Saddam and atrocities by proving a chain of command in connection with the execution of the 148 men.
The prosecution has seven witnesses left, one being the interior minister at the time of the Dujail events, Saadoun Shaker, and six residents of Dujail, court sources said.
The testimony of one resident in the town, who died before appearing in court, was taped before an investigating magistrate, the sources said.
If time permits, witness testimony will be presented on Wednesday, court sources said.
If the prosecution can conclude its agenda, a long adjournment is expected during which court officials will formulate specific charges.
Saddam’s trial was again thrown into disarray on Tuesday when his top defence lawyers walked out after their pleas for an adjournment and the removal of the judge were rejected.
Chief defence attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi and his deputy Khamis al-Obeidi staged another walkout after their attempts to win an adjournment and the expulsion of chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman on grounds of bias were turned down.
Their latest protest came minutes after they had lifted their boycott and returned to the chamber. Tuesday’s session was adjourned after three hours.