[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday defended his signing of a 1984 execution order [text] as prosecutors began their cross examination of the former dictator before the Iraqi High Criminal Court [official website; JURIST news archive] at the resumption of his trial [JURIST news archive]. Hussein insisted that he approved the death sentences of 148 Shiites who had participated in an assassination attempt based upon his lawful reliance on the judgment of his Revolutionary Court [JURIST report]. He also denounced the current Iraqi Interior Ministry [Reuters report], saying that the department has tortured and killed thousands of Iraqis. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has come under scrutiny for alleged human rights violations [JURIST report], and Hussein's statements seem likely to stir up tensions between Iraq's religious and ethnic groups.
Hussein Wednesday ignored new warnings from Chief Judge Ra'uf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] against making political speeches; during the last trial session Abdel-Rahman closed proceedings [JURIST report] after Hussein called on Iraqis to end sectarian violence and focus their efforts on attacking American troops. AP has more.