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Saddam Pleads Not Guilty in Opening Trial Session


Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has pleaded not guilty to ordering the killing of more than 140 Shi'ite men in the town of al-Dujail after a failed attempt on his life in 1982.

The trial opened today-Wednesday with Saddam refusing the judge's order to identify himself. Saddam declared himself Iraq's president and said he does not recognize the court.

Iraqi television broadcast footage of Saddam and seven other defendants sitting in a holding pen under tight security listening intently to the court proceedings. The seven former regime members also pleaded not guilty.

The judge advised the defendants that they face possible execution if convicted. He then agreed to a defense request to adjourn the trial until November 28th to give Saddam's lawyers more time to prepare.

Senior Iraqi leaders joined diplomats, reporters and international human rights monitors in witnessing the proceedings at a specially built courtroom in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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