Defense attorney in Saddam Hussein's trial killed and another lawyer wounded in drive-by shooting
By SAMEER N. YACOUB - Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) Three gunmen in a speeding car killed a
lawyer for a co-defendant in Saddam Hussein's trial and wounded another
Tuesday in Baghdad, a member of the defense team and police said. It was the
second assassination of a Saddam defense team lawyer in less than a month.
Adel al-Zubeidi, who was representing former Iraqi Vice President
Taha Yassin Ramadan, was shot to death and attorney Thamir al-Khuzaie was
wounded in the ambush in the predominately Sunni Arab neighborhood of Adil,
according to lawyer Khamees Hamid al-Ubaidi.
Saddam's main lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, blamed the government for
Tuesday's attack, telling Al-Jazeera television that the shooting was
carried by "an armed group using government vehicles."
"The aim of these organized attacks is to scare Arab and foreign
lawyers," al-Dulaimi said. "We call upon the international community, on top
of them the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to send an
investigative committee because the situation is unbearable."
He called for moving Saddam and his colleagues into a neutral
country. Al-Dulaimi said defense lawyers do not recognize the trial's next
date which comes on Nov. 28.
A police general said the attack occurred when three gunmen in a
speeding car pulled alongside the lawyers' vehicle and opened fire. The
general spoke on condition of anonymity because the sensitive case was in
the early stages of investigation.
Al-Zubeidi also represented Abdullah Kazim Ruwayyid, a former Baath
Saddam and seven others have been charged with the 1982 killings of
Shiite villagers in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, following an
assassination attempt. The trial opened Oct. 19 and was suspended until Nov.
28 to allow the defense time to prepare its case.
On Oct. 20, Saadoun al-Janabi, was abducted from his office by 10
masked gunmen, a day after he attended the first session of the trial,
acting as the lawyer for co-defendant Awad al-Bandar.
Al-Janabi's body, with two bullet shots to the head, was found hours
later on a sidewalk near Fardous Mosque in the eastern neighborhood of Ur in
Baghdad, near the site of his office.
The assassination of a second lawyer associated with the trial was
likely to raise new questions about whether this country can conduct such a
sensitive prosecution in the midst of insurgency and domestic turmoil.
Following al-Janabi's death, members of the defense team said they
had suspended further dealings with the special court until their safety is
guaranteed. Al-Ubaidi said that the entire defense team had rejected an
offer of guards from the Interior Ministry, pointing to frequent Sunni Arab
accusations that ministry forces or Shiite militias linked to the government
have killed members of the minority that was dominant under Saddam.
He said then that they were talking with U.S. officials about
getting protection from American troops. But a later defense team statement
said that it would seek United Nations protection for the Iraqi lawyers
because they do not trust either the U.S. military or the Iraqi government
to ensure their safety.
Saddam's defense team, which includes some 1,500 lawyers who act as
advisers, is led by Khalid al-Dulaimi and Abdel Haq Alani, an Iraqi-born
lawyer based in Britain. Alani is the top legal consultant to Saddam's
daughter, Raghad, and believed to be backbone of defense team.