Lawyer representing Saddam Hussein killed

Iran Materials 21 June 2006 14:15 (UTC +04:00)

(AP) - One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was shot to death Wednesday after he was abducted from his home by men wearing police uniforms in Baghdad, court and police officials said.

Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim in their eight-month-old trial, was abducted from his house at 7 a.m., said Saddam's top lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi. His body was found shot to death on a street near the Shiite slum of Sadr City, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi confirmed that al-Obeidi had been killed, although he did not provide any details.

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

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

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

Sunni Arabs were dominant under Saddam's rule but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster in April 2003.

A dozen masked gunmen abducted defense 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 head. Nearly three weeks later, defense lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in a brazen daylight ambush in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.

The defense has asked Iraqi authorities for increased protection and threatened to boycott the trial unless this was provided.

The deposed leader and the other seven are charged with killing more than 140 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.