Saddam Hussein's chief attorney vowed to boycott Iraq's war crimes tribunal on Tuesday until a man he says attacked the former president during a hearing is brought to justice and the court apologizes.
Khalil Dulaimi said his client, expected to stand trial as early as September, was dismissive of prosecutors and judges working for the U.S.-backed Special Tribunal, calling them American puppets.
In an exclusive interview, Dulaimi announced a boycott of the tribunal, saying it had failed to protect Saddam from attack. U.S. forces responsible for guarding Saddam have denied any such assault on the former president had taken place.
"As Saddam Hussein's lawyer and on behalf of all the defense team, we announce the boycott of the Iraqi Special Tribunal until they make a formal apology for the incident and the person who committed that disgraceful act is brought to justice," Dulaimi, sitting in law offices in Baghdad, told Reuters.
Mr Dulaimi said Saddam Hussein needed medical checks on his throat.
He said the former leader, who faces the death penalty if convicted of war crimes, was not afraid.
"My client does not fear death and he wishes that the court and the trial was fair and legal but he does not fear death," said Mr Dulaimi.
He said Saddam Hussein was "totally isolated from the world" in a US-run prison.
"He spends his time reading books, writing poetry, reading legal books, praying and reading the Koran," he said.