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More Witnesses Testify Against Saddam Hussein


Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has threatened to boycott what he says is an "unjust court," when it reconvenes for a fifth session in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Following a day of testimony from three witnesses who said they were abused and tortured by Saddam's agents, the former Iraqi dictator exploded in anger when judges announced the court would hear two more prosecution witnesses on Wednesday.

Saddam Hussein shouted that he would not return to court and told the judges "Go to hell!"

According to Iraqi law, a defendant could be brought to court by force. It is not yet clear what the court will do if Saddam refuses to attend Wednesday's session.

All three witnesses testified behind a curtain Tuesday to conceal their identities. A woman known as Witness A described in chilling detail about how she and dozens of others were arrested and tortured after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein in the town of Dujail 23 years ago.

An electronic machine deepened and distorted her voice. But it could not disguise Witness A's bitterness and anger toward Wadah al-Sheikh, an Iraqi intelligence officer who earlier acknowledged in a videotaped testimony that he was in Dujail in 1982 to investigate who may have carried out the attack against Saddam.

Mr. Sheikh died of cancer in late October.

Witness A says Wadah al-Sheikh forced her to take off her clothes, raising her legs up and tying up her hands. She says he administered electric shocks and whipped her to make her speak.

The 39-year-old housewife strongly hinted that she had also been raped by Mr. Sheikh and others with him at the time.

Journalists were unable to hear the testimony of the second witness, a 74-year-old woman from Dujail who says her family was imprisoned after the assassination attempt in 1982. The presiding judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, turned off the electronic system that feeds audio to the courtroom press gallery. It is unclear why he cut the feed.

The third witness, a man from Dujail, testified that his father was beaten to death by Iraqi intelligence officials while imprisoned at Abu Ghraib prison.

At first, Saddam listened to the witnesses in silence. But as the day wore on, he began losing his temper, thumping his desk and gesturing wildly with his hands.

The former Iraqi leader accused Americans of creating a theater of his trial and said that they and Jewish "Zionists" wanted him dead. On Monday, Saddam told the court that he was not afraid of being executed.

Saddam and seven other co-defendants are accused of killing more than 140 Shi'ites in Dujail as retribution for the assassination attempt. If they are found guilty, they could be put to death by hanging.

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