Saddam forces adjournment

In Saddam’s absence, however, his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti, Iraq’s former head of intelligence, kept up the drama in the courtroom with several outbursts of his own.

The day before, Saddam had railed at the judge and the court about its “illegality” and vowed not to return to his trial over a Shiite village massacre in 1982 — a promise he appears to have kept.

“Saddam did not boycott (the proceedings), he was kept out on the basis of a request,” chief investigating judge Raed al-Juhi told reporters, refusing to specify the nature of the request Saddam made.

The former Iraqi dictator’s lawyers, however, put out their own statement saying that Saddam boycotted the court because “it is illegal and cannot provide a fair trial.”

Mr Juhi assured reporters that Saddam would be there for the next session.

Saddam’s absence was another setback for a trial that has been plagued by delays, numerous adjournments and procedural wrangling.

Adjournment

Still, even as presiding judge Rizkar Mohammed Amin announced the two-week adjournment for elections on December 15, the court had completed the initial “complainant” witness phase.

Defence lawyers have challenged witness testimony as confused, fabricated and not directly implicating their clients amid furious outbursts from the dock attesting to maltreatment in detention and their innocence.

Meanwhile gunmen have kidnapped the son of a bodyguard for a judge in the Saddam Hussein trial.

Unknown gunmen kidnapped Karim Salam late yesterday as he played in front of his parent’s house in the eastern neighbourhood of
Kamsarah, said the boy’s father Salam Hirmiz Gorgis.

“At about 5.30pm (local time) a car came here, two boys were playing they took my son put him in the car and left,” said Mr Gorgis. “He is sick and he is eight years old.”

Mr Gorgis works for one of the five judges in the Saddam trial.

However, the judge’s identity cannot be revealed legally due to special security measures imposed for the trial.