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Saddam Pleads Innocent, Trial Adjourned

The first session of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's trial ended Wednesday afternoon after judge ordered adjournment until Nov. 28.

Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin made the adjournment decision after Adnan al-Dulaimi, Saddam's lawyer, requested a three-month postponement.

Saddam and his seven aides all pleaded not guilty over charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Dujail massacre in 1982.

The trial began shortly after 12:00 PM (09:00 GMT), two hours after the scheduled time, when Saddam, wearing a suit and accompanied by guards, appeared in the courtroom in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.

His aides were wearing traditional Arab clothes.

According to TV footage broadcast from the courtroom, Saddam refused to give his name while being asked to answer questions from the panel of five judges led by Chief Judge Amin, a Kurd in his late 40s from the northern city of Sulaimaniyah.

The judges have received training in international criminal law in Britain, the Netherlands and Italy, according to the United States, which has allocated US$75 million as fund to support the investigations.

"I don't acknowledge either the entity that authorizes you nor the aggression because everything based on falsehood is false," Saddam said, describing himself as "president of Iraq".

"I don't recognize this court nor the party which appointed it(Americans and the new Iraqi government)," a defiant Saddam said. "What was built on injustice is invalid," he added, in an apparent challenge to the legitimacy of the court.

Saddam ruled Iraq from 1968 to 2003 before he was toppled by the US-led forces in April 2003 and captured by US troops in December of that year.

After kept in US custody for nearly two years, Saddam, 68, now faces charges over ordering the killing of 143 Shiites in Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad, in 1982. The order came after a group of Shiites failed in an assassination attempt on Saddam's life. If convicted, Saddam will death penalty.

(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2005)

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