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A no show for the defense

first_imgBAGHDAD, Iraq – The defense team in Saddam Hussein’s trial said Wednesday it will not show up for the next session Nov. 28 unless the court accepts its demands for “neutral international intervention” to guarantee security. The declaration came a day after the assassination of a second defense lawyer in the trial, already threatened by the insurgency and questions about legal standards. Adel al-Zubeidi, lawyer for former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was killed by gunmen in Baghdad and another attorney was wounded. Khalil al-Dulaimi, head of the defense team, told reporters the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi government bear some responsibility for the assassinations because they have been unable to maintain order in a country wracked by insurgency – much of it fomented by Saddam’s supporters. Al-Dulaimi released a statement declaring that the defense considers the Nov. 28 trial date “null and void” because of the “very dangerous circumstances that prevent the presence” of the attorneys “unless there is a direct, neutral international intervention that guarantees” security. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Abdel-Haq Alani, a key coordinator on the defense team, was asked by The Associated Press whether he expected the Saddam lawyers to appear in court Nov. 28. Alani replied: “I believe not.” He told AP by telephone from London that the Americans were obliged to protect defense lawyers as “the occupying power.” The United States maintains that status ended when the coalition returned sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 28, 2004. Saddam and seven co-defendants went on trial Oct. 19 in the deaths of 148 Shiite Muslims who were executed after an 1982 attempt on the former president’s life in Dujail, a Shiite town north of Baghdad. The defendants could receive the death penalty if convicted. Also Wednesday, the U.S. command announced that a Marine died of injuries suffered when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle two days earlier in western Iraq. The death brings to 2,055 the number of U.S. military service members who have died since the war started in 2003, according to an AP count. The American military also said some Iraqi civilians were killed in Husaybah when a U.S. jet attacked a house used by insurgents last Monday, not realizing noncombatants also were inside. The town near the border with Syria was the site of a U.S. and Iraqi offensive this week. A Marine statement quoted a local Iraqi as saying insurgents forced their way into the home, killed two residents, then locked remaining family members in a room. “The group then used the home to launch an attack against Iraqi and U.S. forces clearing the area,” the statement said. “Subsequently, the house was destroyed by coalition aircraft. The soldiers and Marines had no knowledge of the civilians being held hostage in the home at the time of the attack.” Five bodies were found in the rubble, the statement added. A man and a young girl were rescued and evacuated for medical treatment. Elaborate security measures have been taken to protect judges, prosecutors and witnesses in the Saddam trial, including keeping their names secret as long as possible. Concern for the safety of the defense team rose when lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi was abducted by masked gunmen the day after the opening session. His body was found later with bullets in his head. After al-Janabi’s killing, the rest of the defense team announced they were suspending dealings with the special court trying their clients until their security was guaranteed. The latest statement appeared to harden that position. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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