Saddam Hussein's lawyer said he will ask for a three-month adjournment when the former dictator's trial for a 1982 massacre begins on Wednesday and will challenge the court's competence to hear the case.
Khalil al-Dulaimi's comments appeared to suggest that his defense strategy will focus not on the details of the massacre but rather on the broader question of the legitimacy and competence of a court set up under U.S. occupation in 2003. Iraq formally became a sovereign nation again in June 2004, but the United States continues to wield vast influence.
Nearly two years after his capture, Saddam is finally facing trial for alleged crimes against fellow Iraqis. In some ways, Iraq also will be on trial, with the world watching to see whether its new ruling class can rise above politics and prejudice and give him a fair hearing.
Saddam and seven senior members of his regime are facing charges that they ordered the killing in 1982 of nearly 150 people in the mainly Shiite village of Dujail north of Baghdad after a failed attempt on the former dictator's life.