Saddam complains about chains as trial resumes

Saddam Hussein today appeared in a special Green Zone courtroom for resumption of his trial as the sound of mortar fire echoed through the centre of the Iraqi capital.

Saddam complained angrily to the judge about having to walk up four flights of stairs, chained and escorted by "foreign guards".

Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin ordered all handcuffs and shackles removed from the defendants as each entered the court separately.

Saddam was the last of the eight to enter the courtroom and greeted people with a traditional Arabic greeting "peace be upon the people of peace".

Once inside, Saddam had a brief heated exchange with the chief judge, complaining he had to walk up four flights of stairs in shackles and carrying a copy of the Muslim holy book Koran because the lift wasn't working.

The judge said he would tell the police not to let this happen again. Saddam snapped: "You do not tell them. You order them."

Saddam and seven co-defendants are charged in the killing of more than 140 Shiite Muslims after an assassination attempt against the former president in the Shiite town of Dujail in 1982. Convictions could bring a sentence of death by hanging.

After today's lunch break, the chief judge adjourned the session until 5 December to allow time to find replacements for two defence lawyers who were killed and another who fled the country after he was wounded.

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