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Iraqi Court Hears More Defense Testimonies in Saddam Trial

The trial of Saddam Hussein continues Monday in Iraq with more testimony from the ousted leader's co-defendants.

Saddam and seven former members of his Baath Party are accused of crimes against humanity for the deaths of 148 Shi'ites in 1982 in Dujail, a village north of Baghdad.

In the day's first appearance before the court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, acknowledged sentencing the 148 Shi'ites to death, but insisted they were given a proper trial and had confessed to trying to assassinate Saddam.

Saddam and his co-defendants say the crackdown in Dujail was a legal response to the attempt to kill the former Iraqi leader. But prosecutors have sought to show Saddam's government sought to punish the town's civilian population.

Court officials say Saddam will be called last, and may not appear until later in the week.

On Sunday, three lower-level defendants in the case testified they had no involvement in the killings. The hearing marked the first time since the trial began in October the accused were asked to testify about the killings in Dujail.

The defendants face death by hanging if convicted in the killings.

Sunday's hearing was the first since March first when Saddam told the court he was responsible for ordering trials for the Shi'ites in Dujail. Saddam insisted his order was not a crime since the Shi'ites were suspected in a failed plot to assassinate him.

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