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Saddam, Witnesses 'Forced' to Attend Trial

The trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven codefendants resumed in Baghdad Monday, with all defendants in the courtroom.

Saddam, who boycotted the previous session of the trial, said he was forced to attend today.

All defendants and their lawyers were absent for the previous session of the trial, 11 days ago, and the lawyers are continuing the boycott. They say the chief judge (Raouf Abdel Rahman) is biased against them, and should be removed.

Two former aides were expected to testify against Saddam today, but when the witnesses (Ahemd Khudayr, who ran Saddam's offices, and Hassan al-Obeidi, the former chief of foreign intelligence) were called, they said they had been forced to appear, and had nothing to say.

Court was adjourned at the end of today's abbreviated session, with everyone ordered to return on Tuesday.

Saddam and the others are on trial for the massacre of 140 villagers, all Shi'ite Muslims, more than 20 years ago. The charges against them carry the death penalty.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber who blew himself up outside a Baghdad bank killed at least seven people. And former Iraqi minister Ayham al-Samarrai escaped unharmed when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in the capital.