Saddam Hussein's family form new defense team.

Saddam Hussein's family have chosen a new international legal counsel to defend him against war crimes charges during a trial they say denies him fair justice, the family's lawyer said on Saturday.

"We have formed a legal defense team that includes prominent American, European, Asian and Arab lawyers who were chosen on the basis of competence and merit to put up a strong defense," said Abdel Haq Alani, legal adviser to Saddam's eldest daughter Raghd, who is authorized to act on behalf of the family.

An Iraqi government source said on Friday Saddam and several aides would go on trial on October 19 on charges of killing dozens of Shi'ite villagers at Dujail in 1982.

The source, who is not attached to the Special Tribunal trying the deposed president and his aides for crimes against humanity, forecast a quick trial and execution.

In meetings in Amman this week, Raghd approved the make-up of the defense team that would be charged with handling her father's trial, Alani told Reuters.

"This capable team will be entrusted with preparing the defense case when the trial begins and disputing its legality and procedures that deny the President justice," Alani added.

Alani, who is closely involved with the legal deliberations, said the identity of the new counsel would not be revealed for the time being.

Last month the family revoked the right of attorney for Western and Arab attorneys and propagandists claiming to represent the former Iraqi leader, saying publicity and fame was a bigger motive for many of them than defending Saddam.

Saddam's trial will begin a few days after a referendum on a new constitution that the U.S.-backed authorities hope will bury the legacy of his dictatorship.

The first charge involves the deaths of possibly more than 140 men from Dujail, north of Baghdad, where Saddam survived an assassination attempt in 1982.

Khalil Dulaimi, the only lawyer authorized to represent the toppled Iraqi leader and who attends Saddam's court hearings, will show Saddam the names of the new defense team sometime next week to get his approval, Alani said.

More than 2,000 lawyers had volunteered for Saddam's defense team, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and a daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Legal Rights Denied

Alani said the first task of the new team of legal experts would be to get full access to the jailed former leader, saying justice could not be done without Saddam getting professional legal advice.

"If the Americans allow us to meet him there will be a chance to put a defense case and hammer the point that this trial is illegal," Alani said

Without official documents presented by the Iraqi judicial authorities or approval to bring more lawyers to defend Saddam, the ousted leader's basic legal rights were being violated, Alani said.

"Until now we cannot get on the with task of disputing the illegality of the trial or any charge because no official document has been presented so far. It's our right to see the charges," Alani said.

The trial may stir passions among some minority Sunni Arabs, who dominated Iraq under Saddam and before. In some demonstrations this week against the new constitution, his face has reappeared in public, on placards and posters.

Saddam's followers also play a role in the violence against U.S. troops and forces loyal to the Shi'ite-led government.

The trial, which officials have said will probably largely be televised, will be held in a specially prepared building inside the fortified "Green Zone" government compound which was once Saddam's presidential palace complex on the Tigris.

[Source: By Suleiman alŽKhalidi, Reuters, Amman, 03Sep05]

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