Saddam Hussein refuses to enter plea as specific charges read against him

Saddam, who was alone in the defendants' pen as the charges were read, stood holding a copy of the Quran and insisted he was still Iraq's president, saying he did not recognize the court.

"Your honor, you gave a long report. That report can't be summed up by saying guilty or not," Saddam, dressed in a black suit, said after chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman read the charges list and asked for a plea.

"Your honor is now before Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq," Saddam said. "I am the president of Iraq by the will of the Iraqis, and I remain president of Iraq up to this moment. I respect the will of the Iraqi people and I will defend it with honor in the face of the collaborators and in the face of America, the AP reports.

"I do not recognize the collaborators that they brought to appoint a court and put forward a law with retroactive effect against the head of state, who is protected by the constitution and the law," he said.

Abdel-Rahman entered a plea of not guilty for Saddam.

With the reading of charges, the trial - which began Oct. 19 - enters a new phase, with the defense presenting its case. After hearing from five defense witnesses in the five-hour session, the court adjourned until Tuesday.