Chief Prosecutor in Saddam Genocide Trial Calls for New Presiding Judge

The chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial on Wednesday demanded the presiding judge step down, accusing him of bias toward the deposed leader and his co-defendants.

"You allowed this court to become a political podium for the defendants," roared the prosecutor, Munqith al-Faroon, as judge Abdullah al-Amiri listened.

Al-Faroon alleged that al-Amiri was giving Saddam the time to make "political" statements that were irrelevant to proceedings.

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"For instance yesterday, instead of taking legal action (against Saddam), you asked his permission to talk," al-Faroon said.

"The action of the court leans toward the defendants," the prosecutor alleged.

Al-Amiri responded by recalling how a Muslim successor to the 7th Century Prophet Muhammad allowed the accused to voice their opinions.

One of the "pillars of the judiciary is to treat everyone equally," al-Amiri said before he ordered that the proceedings resume.

He did not answer the prosecutor's accusations, which came a day after Saddam thundered out against "agents of Iran and Zionism" and vowed to "crush your heads" after listening to Kurdish witnesses tell of the horrors committed by the fallen regime two decades ago.

Four witnesses told the court Tuesday of mass graves where the bodies of their relatives — who went missing in Operation Anfal — were found two decades later. One witness recalled his effort to survive a chemical attack allegedly carried out by Saddam's forces against the Kurdish population.

Earlier this week, Saddam also accused the Kurdish witnesses of trying to sow ethnic division in Iraq by alleging chemical attacks and mass arrests in their villages during the 1980s crackdown that the prosecution says claimed up to 180,000 lives.

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