Saddam lawyer killed in Baghdad

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One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was killed today after he was abducted from his home by men wearing police uniforms in Baghdad.

Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented Saddam and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, was abducted from his house at 7am local time, said Saddam's top lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said al-Obeidi had been killed, although he did not provide more details.

Unlike al-Dulaimi, who shuttles between Amman, Jordan, and the Iraqi capital, al-Obeidi chose to continue to live in Baghdad despite the tenuous security and the killing of two members of the trial's defence team last year.

Al-Dulaimi blamed the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis have alleged is infiltrated by so-called Shiite death squads.

"We strongly condemn this act and we condemn the killings done by the Interior Ministry forces against Iraqis," he said, adding US-led forces also bore responsibility because the war had allowed Shiite militias to gain influence.

Sunni Arabs were dominant under Saddam's rule but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster in April 2004.

A dozen masked gunmen abducted defence lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi from his Baghdad office the day after the trial's opening session in October. His body was found the next day with two bullets in his skull.

Nearly three weeks later, defence lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in a brazen daylight ambush in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.