Saddam Hussein challenged the chief judge in his Kurdish genocide trial Tuesday, telling him in a letter that he no longer wants to attend the hearings and that he was ready to face the consequences.

In a handwritten Arabic statement made available to The Associated Press, Saddam cited what he claimed were repeated "insults" by the chief judge, Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, and prosecutors trying him for his role in the 1987-88 military campaign, code-named Operation Anfal.

"I wasn't given the chance to speak when I tried to clarify the truth by raising my hand three times," Saddam wrote in the one-page letter dated Monday. He said he wanted to respond to a prosecution allegation that Saddam had stashed away US$10 billion.

In Monday's hearing, an unnamed prosecutor asked al-Oreibi to freeze the US$10 billion, which he said "belonged to the former regime and was deposited in foreign banks."

"We ask the court to put its hand on the money to secure the rights of the victims," the prosecutor added.

The judge did not respond and the hearing adjourned until Wednesday to hear more prosecution evidence.

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