Saddam Hussein’s defence team walked out of the court in Baghdad today after the chief trial judge refused to allow former Attorney General Ramsey Clark to challenge the tribunal’s legitimacy in an address to the session.
Clark tried to address the court, saying he needed only two minutes to present his argument. But Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin said the tribunal had been established under the law by an elected Iraqi government and that only Saddam’s chief lawyer could address the hearing.
Amin said the defence should submit its motion in writing and warned that if the defence walked out then the court would appoint replacement lawyers.
“We reject the appointment of court employees to defend us,” Saddam said.
He and his half-brother Barazan Ibrahim then chanted: “Long Live Iraq, Long Live the Arab state”.
When the judge explained that he was ruling in accordance with the law Saddam replied: “This is a law made by America and does not reflect Iraqi sovereignty.”
A guard tried to calm Ibrahim, but he angrily told them to leave him alone.
The defence maintained that the court could not proceed to issues of substance before the matter of legitimacy and other procedural matters were resolved.
Saddam’s chief lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, demanded that the court halt its proceedings until the challenged is ruled on. The judge replied that the proceedings must go on while the challenge is being deliberated.
Clark spent about 15 minutes trying to address the court, but the judge wouldn’t let him, arguing that only Arabic was recognised as the language of the court.
“ We will give you enough time to address the court at a suitable time,” said the judge.
At that point, Saddam snapped: “The American occupation continues.”