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Judge ejects Hussein and co-defendants

Story Highlights

• Judge ejects Hussein and his six co-defendants; trial to resume October 9
• Judge had earlier warned Hussein to mind his manners, respect the court
• Hussein's lawyers say they're boycotting the trial indefinitely
• Hussein on trial for genocide and other crimes; could get death penalty
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- For the second day in a row and the third time in a week, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was ejected from the courtroom for disrupting his genocide trial.

The chief judge also removed Hussein's six co-defendants, court officials said.

The trial has adjourned until October 9.

Less than two hours into the session, Hussein interrupted Tuesday's second witness, complaining that the testimony, along with the court, was unjust.

Earlier in the session, chief judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa had warned Hussein to mind his manners if he wanted to remain in the courtroom.

With the latest disruption, Hussein and the judge became embroiled in a heated argument, which led to the entire group of defendants standing in defiance -- many of them shaking their fingers and shouting at Al-Khalefa.

"You are a defendant, and I am a judge," Al-Khalefa scolded Hussein. "You have to respect the court."

Trying to regain control of the courtroom, the judge said, "Shut up, no one is allowed to speak."

The judge quickly ejected the former Iraqi leader. A short time later, Sultan Hashim al-Tai followed, after he engaged in a shouting match with Al-Khalefa and demanded to be removed.

"I don't know how to deal with you," an exasperated Al-Khalefa said. "Don't raise your voice."

The court then went into recess.

At the start of the session told Hussein he must show the court the proper respect.

"You are sitting here as a defendant. You have obligations and duties. If you won't exercise your duties, legally I will help you in that direction," chief judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa said in his warning.

"When you you want to speak ... you need to get permission from the presiding judge," he continued. "Humiliation or abuse of the court will take you nowhere. It will rather damage your position, not us."

Hussein pulled out a sheet of paper to respond but was told by Al-Khalefa that he could not read it if it was the same letter Al-Khalefa had already received from him.

The judge then disabled the microphones in the courtroom for nearly 15 minutes. It was not clear if Hussein spoke or not, as the courtroom camera remained on the Al-Khalefa, but he appeared to be listening to someone for more than half of that time before audio was restored.

On Monday, verbal jousting began about two hours into the court session as Al-Khalefa corrected two other defendants in the case, telling them not to refer to each other by their old titles under the former regime.

Hussein interjected and was told to be quiet and to respect the court.

"I ask not to be present in this cage, because I do not want to be sitting here with you," Hussein responded. (Watch the fiery exchange between the judge and Hussein -- 1:08 external link)

A short time later, Al-Khalefa had the former leader removed from the court.

Hussein's genocide trial had resumed Monday but without lawyers representing the ex-president or his six co-defendants.

Hussein's nine-member defense team announced Sunday that it would boycott the proceedings, citing the replacement of the chief judge and other alleged violations of legal procedures.

Khalil al-Dulaimi, Hussein's chief lawyer, told The Associated Press that he and other defense lawyers would boycott the trial "indefinitely."

Al-Dulaimi also protested the court's refusal to hear non-Iraqi lawyers and its demand that foreign attorneys seek permission to enter the courtroom.

Among Hussein's nine lawyers are a Jordanian, a Spaniard, a Frenchman and two Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Hussein and six others have been on trial since August 21 for a crackdown on Kurdish guerrillas in the late 1980s. The prosecution says about 180,000 people, mostly civilians, died in attacks that included the use of poison gas against Kurdish towns and villages in northern Iraq.

Hussein could face execution if convicted of genocide.



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