BAGHDAD -- Saddam Hussein followed through on his threat to boycott his trial yesterday, and gunmen kidnapped the 8-year-old son of a judge's bodyguard.
One of Hussein's seven codefendants lashed out at conditions of his own detention, saying that guards offered only ''the worst brands" of cigarettes.
Barazan Ibrahim's outburst came a day after Hussein, his half brother, warned that he would not return to the ''unjust" court, in a protest against the conditions of his detention. The group is on trial in the deaths of more than 140 Shi'ite Muslims following a 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein, then president of Iraq.
The court convened yesterday after four hours of behind-the-scenes consultations failed to resolve the standoff. After hearing from two more witnesses, Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin adjourned the hearings until Dec. 21, following next week's national elections.
Court official Raid Juhi insisted that Hussein did not boycott the hearing but that the court ''decided he should be removed" after the closed-door consultations. Juhi said Hussein would be in court Dec. 21.
However, a statement released in Amman, Jordan, by Hussein's legal team said the former president stayed away to protest alleged mistreatment by an illegal court.
''President Saddam Hussein refused to attend the sessions of the extraordinary court that was created by the United States government as the occupying power of Iraq, claiming that the court is illegal and cannot provide a fair trial," the statement said.
Hussein's lawyers and the other defendants were on hand when Amin convened the session at 3 p.m., about four hours after the usual starting time. The chief judge said the court would brief Hussein on the proceedings that took place during his absence.
The 8-year-old boy, Karim Salam, was grabbed on Tuesday as he played in front of his parents' house in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Kamsarah, according to his father, Salam Hirmiz Gorgis.
''At about 5:30 p.m. a car came here," Gorgis told AP Television News. ''They took my son, put him in the car, and left."
Gorgis works for one of the trial's five judges. The judge's identity cannot be revealed because of special security measures. Two attorneys representing codefendants have been assassinated since the trial began Oct. 19.
During yesterday's session, Ibrahim, head of Iraqi intelligence during the Dujail assassination attempt, told the court that he has spent more than eight months in solitary confinement in a windowless facility without air conditioning, electricity, or running water.
''I couldn't tell if it was day or night," he said.
''We are prisoners of the wealthiest and most powerful nation, yet, since four months ago, they are giving me six cigarettes a day from the worst brands."
Ibrahim said guards would force him and other prisoners to exercise before dawn or during the hottest time of the day. At the slightest breach of prison rules, punishment included the withholding of cigarettes or tea and reducing food rations, he added.
''When I was detained," Ibrahim said, ''I was wearing pajamas that I kept wearing for nine months until my brother came and gave me a dishdasha" -- a traditional robe. ''For one year I did not drink tea or coffee. We had little food," he recalled.
Ibrahim said he lost nearly 40 pounds in two months. He said things are better now and the prisoners have air conditioning and cold water.
''Is this America the protector of human rights?" he said.
Ibrahim sought to distance himself from the Dujail events, saying that his position as head of intelligence then was a ''political post," and that the treatment of prisoners was not the responsibility of the security services.
''Once prisoners are handed over to prisons, they are the responsibility of the department of social affairs," he said. ''I am not a jailer."
The court also heard from a man who testified behind a curtain to conceal his identity. He told of being arrested after the assassination attempt and being taken to Ba'ath Party headquarters, where he found people ''screaming because of the beatings."
''When my turn came, the investigator . . . turned to [Ibrahim] and asked him, 'What shall we do with him?' " the witness said. ''Barazan replied: 'Take him. He might be useful.' "
When questioned, however, the witness said he was blindfolded at the time and others told him Ibrahim was present.