Saddam trial is falling into chaos, claims barrister after defence lawyer found dead

General Hussein Ali Kamal, a deputy interior minister, said yesterday that measures had been taken to ensure the lawyers' security after the abduction and murder of Saadoun al-Janabi, a Sunni Arab lawyer whose body was found in Baghdad on Friday. Two members of the defence team said that the 12 remaining lawyers had rejected ministry guards.

"We refused because of our lack of trust in the Iraqi security agencies," said one lawyer, Khamees Hamid al-Ubaidi. "Everyone knows there are elements in the Interior Ministry that assassinate Iraqis."

The ministry is partly controlled by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Shia party that has most seats in the National Assembly. Its paramilitary arm, the Badr Brigade, is accused of operating death squads.

Mr Ubaidi said the defence lawyers were seeking American protection, and wanted US officials to carry out the investigation into the murder. Mr Janabi was representing Awad Hamad al-Bandar, a former judge on Saddam's Revolutionary Court, and was the only defence lawyer seen in TV coverage of the opening day of the trial, which was adjourned untilnext month. The only other members of the court to appear on camera were the presiding judge and the chief prosecutor, whose identities were disclosed for the first time.

Abdul-Haq al-Ani, a British-trained Iraqi barrister who says he has been asked by Saddam's daughter Raghad to help co-ordinate the ex-dictator's defence from London, told The Independent on Sunday that the trial had already "fallen into chaos". Mr Ani has approached a leading defence lawyer, Anthony Scrivener QC, and a prominent Northern Ireland solicitor, Des Docherty, to represent Saddam, but said: "After this murder, what foreign lawyer would go to Iraq now? There is absolutely no guarantee of any protection."

On Wednesday Saddam refused to recognise "this so-called court", telling the senior judge: "Neither do I recognise the body that has designated and authorised you." According to international lawyers, this stance meant that he should also have refused to plead, but he did so, saying he was not guilty.

"President Saddam has not been given proper legal advice," said Mr Ani. "Not once has his main lawyer on the spot been able to meet with him in private, and any documents they pass to each other are seized by American soldiers and given to the investigating magistrate to look at."

The defence team in Baghdad will also seek a longer adjournment. "They didn't know what the charge was until it was read in court," said Mr Ani. They are also demanding that the trial be moved away from Baghdad, even outside Iraq, although General Kamal ruled that out yesterday. The interim government has rejected a trial abroad, insisting that Saddam and his regime must be tried by Iraqis in Iraq - in part because an international trial might prevent imposition of the death penalty.

The only charge against Saddam and his fellow defendants relates to the 1982 killing of more than 140 Shia men from the village of Dujail, after a failed assassination attempt against the dictator. The prosecution says Saddam's signature appears on execution warrants.

Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani, suggested during a recent visit to Britain that public opinion would demand that Saddam be tried for other crimes, including the use of poison gas to kill thousands of Kurds in Halabja in 1988 and the Anfal campaign that killed some 180,000 Shias in the late 1980s. But connecting him directly to specific deaths might not be easy, and such charges would enable Saddam to cite his past support by the British and US governments.

"I think they are more likely to execute him after finding him guilty on this one charge," said Mr Ani. "Nobody in Baghdad, London or Washington wants this dirty linen washed in public."

Philippe Sands QC, author of a book challenging the legal basis of the Iraq war, agreed, saying: "They don't want Saddam grandstanding for years about Halabja or the war with Iran. My sense is that they will put him to death for the killing of about 150 Shias in one town."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Sales Account Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager - Cyber Security

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager for Cyber Secur...

Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst - Application Support - Central London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engineer (Windows Server, Exchange Server)

£35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum