The trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein has been adjourned until February 28. As he appeared in court earlier, the ex-dictator announced that he and his seven co-accused had gone on hunger strike. They say they are being forced to attend the trial in Baghdad where they are charged with the murder of 148 men in the Shi’ite village of Dujail in 1982.
The accused and their defence team had boycotted past sessions and refused to work with a court-appointed defence team. They are demanding the replacement of the trial’s new chief judge, Raouf Abdel Rahman, a Kurd, whom they say is biased against them. On the streets of Baghdad, some Iraqis describe the trial as a farce. Omar Mohammed from the Arabic television network al-Hurra says Saddam and his co-defendants have become stronger than the judges themselves: “They have succeeded in delaying the trial. Neither the judges nor the chief prosecutor are in control any longer.” A former Iraqi minister and an ex-intelligence official were among the witnesses due to testify against Saddam on Tuesday. Two other former aides appeared in court on Monday, saying they were forced to show up. Prosecutors hope testimony from former officials will help establish a direct link between Saddam and the atrocities he is accused of.