Saddam Hussein on Tuesday attacked prosecution witnesses in his trial for genocide against the Kurds, accusing them of sowing division among Iraqis for the benefit of Israel.
The deposed leader addressed the court after two Kurds testified that during a military offensive in northern Iraq in 1988, they were detained in a camp where conditions were so bad that hundreds of prisoners died of malnutrition.
"This will only serve the separation," Saddam said, referring to the deepening division among Iraqis as shown by the rising death toll in the insurgency and sectarian fighting.
"The Zionists are the only ones who will benefit from the differences among Iraqis," Saddam added.
Earlier, another defendant testified that his lawyer wanted to break ranks with the three-week legal boycott of the trial, but when the judge summoned the attorney, he failed to appear.
And the chief defense lawyer for Saddam denied in an interview that any of the defense attorneys would end their boycott.
The back-and-forth was a continuation of the procedural difficulties that have plagued the trial in which Saddam and six members of his regime are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity during a military offensive against Iraq's Kurdish population in 1987-88. Saddam and one other defendant are also charged with genocide.