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Saddam Hussein's lawyer walks out of trial

Saddam Hussein's chief lawyer walked out of the former leader's trial Monday after a dozen defense requests were rejected. The chief judge immediately appointed other attorneys to defend the deposed president. Chief defense attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi had just ended a month-long boycott of the trial, in which Hussein and six other defendants are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for a 1987-88 offensive against Iraq's Kurdish population. The charges against Hussein and one other defendant include genocide.

When the session began, al-Dulaimi filed 12 requests, including that the court should allow foreign lawyers to attend the trial without prior court permission. Al-Dulaimi had said Sunday that he was ending his boycott in order to make the requests. Chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa denied the requests, prompting al-Dulaimi to say: "I inform the court that I'm withdrawing." The judge replied: "I allow you to withdraw. Go ahead."

Al-Dulaimi has said that if Hussein is condemned to death in a separate trial, where he is charged with killing nearly 150 people from the town of Dujail, it could provoke civil war in Iraq and unrest throughout the Middle East. The verdict in the Dujail trial is expected November 5. Hussein and seven others are charged with crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Muslim Shiites after an attempt to assassinate him in Dujail in 1982. Al-Dulaimi said Sunday he had written to U.S. President George W. Bush to warn him of the consequences of a death sentence against Hussein.

"I warned him against the death penalty and against any other decision that would inflame a civil war in Iraq and send fire throughout the region," al-Dulaimi said in a phone interview from Baghdad. He did not say when he sent the letter to Bush. In the Kurdish trial, the defense team had boycotted the proceeding since September 24 after the dismissal of a chief judge who was criticized as being too soft on Hussein. The lawyers said later they also were protesting the court's refusal to give them more time to review about 10,000 documents in the trial. Prosecutors say the military offensive against the Kurds, Operation Anfal, killed 180,000 people.

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