[JURIST] Iraqi High Criminal Court chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile], who is presiding over the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], said Wednesday that Hussein and one of his co-defendants, Hussein's half-brother and former Baath official Barzan Ibrahim [Trial Watch profile], have refused to submit handwriting samples to the court so they could be analyzed by experts. The court had ordered the two men to submit samples so that analysts could compare them to documents [trial exhibits] relating to a crackdown in Dujail after a failed 1982 assassination attempt on Hussein, including an execution order [text] allegedly signed by Hussein approving the death sentences of 148 Shiites convicted of participating in the plot. The documents to be authenticated are key to the prosecution's case against Hussein. Experts have not completed their analysis and failed to show up for trial Wednesday, prompting Abdel-Rahman to adjourn the session [AFP report] after five minutes. The trial is scheduled to reconvene on Monday.
Hussein and his co-defendants are being tried on crimes against humanity charges for the killing of the 148 Dujail villagers. Hundreds of other Shiites assert they were imprisoned during that time, and some of them allege that they were tortured by Hussein's security forces. If convicted of the charges, the defendants could face the death penalty. Separate genocide charges [JURIST report] have also been filed against Hussein, but that case has not yet gone to trial. AP has more.