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Saddam Asks to be Executed if Found Guilty


A protesting Saddam Hussein was forced into court in Baghdad Wednesday for his trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

Saddam says he was brought to court directly from a hospital, where he was being force-fed following a hunger strike that began July 8. But after Wednesday's court session, sources at the trial said Saddam ended the strike with a meal of beef and rice.

The former Iraqi dictator said he should have been excused from Wednesday's session, in part because he refuses to deal with the lawyers appointed to defend him. After he was ordered to remain in court, however, Saddam turned defiant and appeared to be anticipating the outcome of his trial.

Speaking to the court about himself, the ex-dictator said, "Remember that Saddam was a soldier and therefore, if he is condemned to death, he should be shot and not hanged."

The chief judge Rauf Abdel Rahman replied by saying that Iraq's High Tribunal has not yet delivered its verdict.

The court was adjourned until Thursday after a court appointed lawyer delivered the final argument for Saddam.

The charges against Saddam and seven of his former top aides are related to the killing of nearly 150 Shi'ite men and teenagers more than 20 years ago. The massacre took place in an Iraqi village suspected of harboring assassins who launched an unsuccessful plot against Saddam in 1982.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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