Saddam Hussein's troubled trial moves to a crucial stage Monday with testimony expected from former regime figures and the presentation of documents allegedly pointing to the ousted ruler's knowledge of the torture and execution of Shiite Muslims.
But the proceedings are likely to take place with neither the eight defendants nor the lawyers they retained in the courtroom, which was likely to fuel concerns about the legitimacy of the tribunal and its eventual verdict.
Court officials said witnesses expected in the coming days would include former regime officials, whose testimony would attempt to "connect the dots" to establish a clear chain of command from the security officials who carried out torture and executions to Saddam.
The officials would not identify the witnesses, so it was impossible to determine whether their evidence will live up to its billing. The officials did say, however, that the witnesses were not offered immunity in exchange for their testimony.