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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hussein Judge Faces Criticism

BAGHDAD -- The lead prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial demanded Wednesday that the chief judge resign for being too soft on the former Iraqi leader, who has threatened to "crush the heads" of his accusers.

"The defendants have gone too far with unacceptable expressions and words. The defendants have uttered clear threats. The chief prosecutor's office requests the judge step down from this case," Munqith al-Faroon said, adding the court had become a "political forum" for Hussein and six co-accused.

Dismissing the request, chief judge Abdullah al-Amiri defended his approach to Hussein's trial for genocide against the Kurds by recalling how a successor to the Prophet Mohammed allowed the accused to voice their opinions.

He also cited his 25 years of experience.

"The judge should coordinate and make peace so nobody takes advantage of his fairness," Amiri replied before calling out the first witnesses in the third hearing this week.

Hussein was uncharacteristically quiet on Wednesday and followed the proceedings clutching a Quran.

Amiri, keen to push the trial forward, has largely avoided confrontations with the defendants and their lawyers in a bid to avoid the delays seen in the first Hussein trial, in which the toppled leader frequently used the televised sessions to slam the U.S. occupation and to urge his followers to revolt.