Saddam's lawyer says he was ‘threatened' by Iraq minister

AMMAN (AFP) - A member of Saddam Hussein's defence team said on Tuesday that Iraqi Justice Minister Malek Dohan al-Hassan threatened him and other lawyers with "death", but the Iraqi official denied the allegations.

"The Iraqi justice minister phoned me today and told me: 'If you and the others are thinking of coming to Iraq to defend Saddam, we will not only kill you but we will cut you up in pieces,'" Jordanian lawyer Issam Ghazawi told AFP.

"His tone of voice was threatening and he used vulgar terms so I hung up on him," he said.

Questioned by AFP in Baghdad, the Iraqi minister acknowledged that he spoke to Ghazawi but strongly denied the lawyer's allegations.

"He is a blatant liar," Hassan said.

"I did not threaten anyone. I told him: 'If you want to defend Saddam Hussein you must come to Iraq and visit, first, the mass graves,'" he said in reference to thousands of graves of murdered dissidents and other prisoners uncovered since Saddam's fall.

Ghazawi said he believed he received the "threats" because the head of the defence team, Mohammad Rashdan, was currently visiting the United States.

Rashdan, who is also Jordanian, heads a 20-member defence team appointed by Saddam's wife Sajida and his three daughters, Raghad, Rana and Hala, to defend him, following his capture by US troops in northern Iraq in December.

The defence team has repeatedly accused the United States of preventing them from meeting their client and threatened earlier this month to file a suit against the US administration.

The team has also petitioned the International Committee of the Red Cross to help it meet Saddam and provide them with a health report about their client.

Lawyers 'denied access' to Saddam
The team representing Saddam is currently based in Amman, Jordan

Lawyers appointed by Saddam Hussein's family to represent the ousted Iraqi leader say they have been repeatedly denied access to their client.

Mohammed Rashdan - one of a 20-strong team taken on by the family - has asked for international protection to enable him to visit his client.

In a BBC interview, he also alleged that he had received death threats from the Iraqi government.

Saddam Hussein is expected to face charges of war crimes and genocide.

He was appearing in court for the first time on Thursday.

'No justice'


Another lawyer said the defence team had got authority from Saddam Hussein's wife and two daughters to say he wished them to represent him.

"The difficulty we face is we aren't able to be officially recognised as his defence team until he has signed the power of attorney," Tim Hughes told the BBC.

"Moves are being made... for us to complete the legalities of making sure the power of attorney is fully recognised."

Mr Hughes also questioned whether his client could receive a fair trial.

"The [new] Iraqi constitution is illegal," he said.

"The appointment of judges has been all politically motivated... That is no justice," he added.

He accused to US-led coalition of putting on a show trial, and said he had been asking for access to his client "non-stop".

Mr Rashdan also questioned the court's legitimacy.

"When they occupied Iraq, this is illegal and everything about that will be illegal," he said.

"They change the law and they didn't have any council or parliament to change the law.

"All the procedure from the date of occupation of Iraq up until this moment is illegal and until this moment the law of Iraq is valid," he added.

It's illegal: top defence lawyer
From The Times and AFP
July 02, 2004
THE group of Arab and foreign lawyers engaged to defend Saddam Hussein has ignited a furious debate over the legality of the special Iraqi tribunal, and claims the process will inevitably lead to the former dictator's conviction and execution.

Even before Saddam and 11 former Iraqi officials appeared in court last night to face war crimes charges, Mohammad Rashdan, lead lawyer in the 20-strong defence team, condemned the tribunal as "illegal and unjust".

The Jordanian lawyer's team, which includes US academic Curtis Doebbler, French barrister Emmanuel Ludot, Swiss lawyer Marc Henzelin, and leading British lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano, has been hired by Sajida Khairallah, Saddam's first wife, and their three daughters, to defend the former president.

So far the defence has not been recognised by the Iraqi authorities, and they have not been allowed to meet Saddam or see any court papers.

"We are facing clear legal violations in this trial and do not recognise this tribunal," Mr Rashdan said.

"Any trial is illegal and unjust and is based on an aggression that took place against Iraq. On what basis was the court set up? Who appointed the judges?"

He claimed the bench had been bribed by the US-led coalition force.

US and British officials in Baghdad, who have spent the past year building evidence to be used in a war crimes trial, said it would be possible to secure successful convictions to international standards. But they insisted more time was needed to gather evidence for the prosecution.

"We have found some very significant documents among the 30 million seized," said a senior US official in Iraq. "We have witnesses prepared to testify in court. We have forensic teams working at mass grave sites. But there is a lot more to do."

The head of the special tribunal, Salem Chalabi, said Saddam would be tried for crimes relating to a massacre of Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s and war crimes against Iran and Kuwait. He said Saddam's suppression of Shia Muslims in 1991 was well-documented.

The defence is hoping to employ tactics similar to those used by Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serb nationalist leader, who questioned the legality of his trial in the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, and raised doubts about the prosecution's claim he had personally ordered atrocities committed during the fighting in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Mr Ludot yesterday called the Iraqi penal code "Stone Age legislation" and said it was ill-suited to Saddam's case.

The interim Iraq Government took legal custody of Saddam from the US-led military on Wednesday.

"Iraqi penal procedure dates back to the Stone Age. The 1969 penal code, taken up again by the Americans and therefore still in effect, did not foresee a situation like the one we're in now," Mr Ludot said.

"We fear a legislation of circumstance: the goal is obviously to execute Saddam Hussein as quickly as possible."

Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar said his Government had already approved the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Mr Di Stefano told ABC Radio yesterday that Saddam's legal team might use the defence of sovereign immunity. They would argue that as leader of Iraq, he was entitled to carry out the actions of which he is accused.

Mr Di Stefano also made a startling comment that the defence team would be making an application for Saddam's provisional release.,5744,10015941%5E2703,00.html

French Saddam lawyer slates 'Stone Age' Iraqi law

PARIS, June 30 (AFP) - A French lawyer on Saddam Hussein's defence team on Wednesday called the Iraqi penal code "Stone Age" legislation and said it was ill-suited to address the ousted Iraqi president's case.

"Iraqi penal procedure dates back to the Stone Age, and the 1969 penal code, taken up again by the Americans and therefore still in effect, did not foresee a situation like the one we're in now," Emmanuel Ludot told AFP.

"The death penalty existed for common law crimes, and a gap in the law still exists as to how it can be applied," he explained.

"We fear a legislation of circumstance: the goal is obviously to execute Saddam Hussein as quickly as possible. The proof is the re-establishment of the death penalty, aimed at condemning him to die."

Ludot was speaking after Iraq's interim government took legal custody of Saddam and 11 top members of his ousted regime earlier on Wednesday from the US-led military.

Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar said in an interview published on Wednesday in the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat that his government had approved the reinstatement of the death penalty.

He added that the decision would be formally announced in the "near future".

The head of Saddam's 20-strong defence team, Jordanian lawyer Mohammed Rashdan, charged Wednesday that the Iraqi judicial authorities who took legal custody of the ousted president were illegal, a point echoed by Ludot.

Saddam's wife and three daughters appointed the legal team following the ousted leader's capture by US troops in Iraq in December.

Saddam's lawyer urges freedom
By Jamal Halamby in Amman, Jordan

A LAWYER claiming to represent Saddam Hussein urged the US-led coalition in Iraq to release him today, saying that handing him over to the new interim Iraqi government would violate international law.

"With the transfer of authority, the US has no legal basis to keep prisoners of war, including Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in detention," said Ziad al-Khasawneh, one of 20 Jordanian and foreign lawyers appointed by Saddam's wife Sajidah.
"International law dictates that in such a situation, the occupation authority must release all prisoners of war - including Mr President Saddam - and let them choose to leave to any country they wish to
go to and under the protection of the occupying power and the United Nations," al-Khasawneh said.

"The US would violate international law if it handed Saddam or other prisoners of war over to the interim Iraqi government," he added.

In Baghdad, a coalition official said it had been agreed with the Iraqi government to transfer legal custody of Saddam Hussein in a week.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made the remarks only hours after the US-led coalition handed over power to an Iraqi interim government in a low-key ceremony in Baghdad.

No further specifics on the exact timing were available.

The ousted Iraqi leader, however, will remain in the hands of US troops, because Iraq doesn't have a prison secure enough to hold him, a US official said last week, also on condition of anonymity.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal, established six months ago, is expected to try Saddam for atrocities committed during his 23 years as president, including the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.

Al-Khasawneh said the defense team, which has enlisted another 1,500 lawyers from across the Arab world, Europe and the United States, was preparing letters to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations urging them to work toward freeing Saddam.

"We're saying in those letters that since the military operations have ended and with the handover of power, and since the president (Saddam) had not been charged, then he must be released as stipulated in international law," he said.

He said the lawyers "are ready in all circumstances" to go to Iraq for Saddam's defence when the trial starts.,5478,9982017%255E1702,00.html

Saddam's lawyer confirms that his client was tortured
Iraq, Politics, 6/17/2004

Muhammad al-Rashdan, the lawyer of the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said that he had received a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross confirming that Saddam Hussein -- who is held by the American forces -- has painful wounds in various parts of his body.

Al-Rashdan explained in a press statement that the report he had received two days earlier in Amman confirms that Saddam Hussein is hit by several wounds in his body on January 21, this year.

Al-Rashdan -- who is officially authorized to defend Saddam by his wife Sajeeda on her own behalf and for her daughters Raghad, Rana and Hala -- considered that this confirmed that Saddam was exposed to material and moral torture, a matter which constitutes a flagrant violations of the Geneva agreements, renewing his demands to immediately release Saddam.

The Jordanian lawyer stressed that the international law stands with his client and that he intends to head to the US to meet with officials at the US administration to follow up the issue of Saddam's continued detentions and his material and moral torture.

Al-Rashdan said " I have asked the US justice secretary and the Defense and secretaries of state and did not receive an answer to that." He also extended a message to them demanding the release of Saddam's money confiscated during his detention estimated at USD 750,000 and handing over the sum to his wide Sajeeda.

Cardiff-trained lawyer joins defence team

Jul 2 2004


Rhodri Owen, The Western Mail


A CARDIFF-trained who is part of Saddam Hussein's legal team insisted yesterday the former Iraqi dictator had a fundamental right to a defence.

Tim Hughes, 36, from Tiverton, Devon, flew out to the Middle East on Wednesday evening to join the 20-strong group for the former dictator's first court appearance.

The advocates were hired by Saddam's wife and children after they contacted a Jordanian lawyer to assemble an international team.

Mr Hughes, a married father of three, originally from Bristol, works for law firm Bevan Ashford, which has offices in London and south-west England.

He read law at Cardiff Law School.

He has complained that Saddam is facing a "show trial" and his lawyers have been left "totally in the dark" about what is happening to him.

Asked what his thoughts were when he was offered the job he said, "It's simply a question of taking an opportunity which presented itself.

"I gave it some thought. They are issues which I have always had an interest in."

Asked about whether he had any qualms about representing Saddam, he said they would only be in terms of the "demands it may make on my time personally" but not "Saddam Hussein's right to be legally defended".


The Trial Of Saddam Hussein


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