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Saddam rants at trial he calls a 'comedy'

BAGHDAD, March 15 (UPI) -- Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein called his Baghdad trial for massacre a comedy Wednesday and refused orders to stop making political statements.

Chief judge Raouf Abdul Rahman repeatedly interrupted Saddam as he read a prepared statement denouncing recent sectarian violence in Iraq before ordering the courtroom cleared to strip Saddam of his audience, CBS reported.

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"You are being tried in a criminal case. Stop your political speech," Rahman said, to which Saddam replied, "I am the head of state."

Rahman reminded him he "used to be a head of state" and that he was merely a defendant now.

Saddam and seven codefendants are charged with killing 148 Shiites after an assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite village of Dujail in 1982. They face possible execution by hanging if convicted.

All the men have pleaded innocent.

One of Saddam's lawyers told CBS the legal team has little doubt the court has already decided Saddam is guilty.

"I fully expect him to be dead by the end of the year, executed by this court in this show trial," he said.

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