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Archive for Sunday, November 27, 2005

Attorneys plan to argue court isn’t legitimate

November 27, 2005

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— Saddam Hussein's attorneys plan to argue when his trial resumes Monday that the court is not legitimate because Iraq is not a sovereign country, and therefore the process should be adjourned.

It's the latest in a string of arguments that the Iraqi Special Tribunal has thus far rejected, but that have helped to slow and distract a legal process that the Iraqi government and Washington had hoped would move swiftly.

Instead, the proceedings have been marred by the assassinations of two attorneys on the defense team of two dozen, and sparked widespread concern about whether defense attorneys, or witnesses in the case, or the five judges presiding over it, can survive their duties.

Saddam's attorneys have argued since the trial adjourned Oct. 19 after one day that they'd not been able to review materials in the case adequately, partly because of security concerns. The five-week adjournment was meant to help them do so. Instead, many have scattered or are in hiding and intend to commute to Baghdad for the trial from safer neighboring countries such as Jordan.

Saddam's main attorney, Khalil al-Dulaimi, will reportedly live inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone during the proceedings, as part of a system of safety measures worked out between defense lawyers and the Iraqi government. The deal also requires the Interior Ministry to pay the salaries of bodyguards the lawyers choose.

Having settled the security concern, at least for now, Saddam's defense team is pressing the argument that the trial itself is illegitimate.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are charged with the 1982 killings of nearly 150 people in Dujail, mostly Shiites. Saddam is accused of ordering the killings shortly after an assassination attempt against him in the small northern Iraqi city.

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