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Second defense lawyer in Saddam trial shot, killed

Nov. 9, 2005

by BASSEM MROUE, The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gunmen in a speeding car killed a defense lawyer in the Saddam Hussein trial and wounded another Tuesday, raising doubts about whether the prosecution of the ousted leader can proceed amid the insurgency and domestic turmoil.

The assassination of Adel al-Zubeidi, who was representing former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, in a predominantly Sunni Arab neighborhood in Baghdad was the second attack targeting the defense team since the trial began less than a month ago.

Associated Press
A lawyer for a co-defendant in Saddam Hussein's trial was shot to death and another lawyer was wounded Tuesday in Baghdad.
Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, condemned the attack and said Saddam's followers could be behind the killings to sabotage the case. Saddam's main lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, blamed the Shiite-dominated government for the attack, telling Al-Jazeera TV the shooting was carried out 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, especially the secretary-general of the United Nations, to send an investigative committee because the situation is unbearable."

Al-Dulaimi urged the trial be moved to a neutral country and he said defense lawyers do not recognize the session's next date, Nov. 28. On Oct. 20, Saadoun al-Janabi, the lawyer for co-defendant Awad al-Bandar, was abducted from his office by 10 masked gunmen, a day after the trial's first session. Al-Janabi's body was found nearby hours later. He had been shot twice in the head.

Kubba said the defense lawyers had been asked to move into the heavily guarded Green Zone area in Baghdad for their own protection even before al-Janabi's killing and again afterward, but they refused.

"We see that those who benefit are the people who want to block the work of the court and don't want it to convene (on schedule)," Kubba said. "We know that Saddam and his followers are ready to do anything when it comes in their interest and to block the work of the court."

He promised the government "will do all it can to protect the people."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said it was important for the trial to be conducted in a safe environment.

"That's an important priority, to make sure that you have the security environment in place for those trials to proceed and for witnesses to be able to participate in the trial as well in a secure way," McClellan said.

"We've got to work to make sure that the security is in place for those trials to proceed in a fair and impartial and safe way," he said.