Saddam trial delayed by defence boycott

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The Independent Online

The start of a new session of Saddam Hussein's trial was delayed today as his defence lawyers boycotted the proceedings, demanding a new chief judge be removed because of alleged bias against the former Iraqi leader.

The day's proceedings had been due to begin at 11am local time, but an hour later, the court was still not convened.

A court official blamed the delay on "procedural issues," but did not elaborate.

He said the court would hold a closed session in the morning before opening the proceedings to the press later in the day.

The new problems come after a stormy session on Sunday, when chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman tried to clamp down on the court, throwing out one defendant and a defence lawyer.

The entire defence team walked out in protest and Saddam was escorted out after he rejected new court-appointed lawyers.

The defence team now says it will boycott the trial until Abdel-Rahman is replaced.