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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Saddam lawyers 'left in the dark'
Saddam Hussein in an Iraqi court
Saddam's trial could start within months
Saddam Hussein's lawyers say they have not yet been given any details of the case against him.

Iraq's government has said the former leader could go on trial within months over alleged crimes against humanity.

But the lawyers say they have none of the estimated eight million documents relating to the case, and have not been formally told of the charges.

Saddam Hussein has been allowed two meetings with his lawyers since his capture in December 2003.

The complaints from his Jordan-based lawyers cast serious doubts on the claim that his trial could begin on schedule, says the BBC's John Leyne in Amman.

Prisoners' rights

A spokesman for the legal team, Issam Ghazzawi, said recent pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear that appeared in the British Sun newspaper showed that the former Iraqi leader's basic human rights were being violated.

"You see that his rights are violated as a human being, not only as a president," Mr Ghazzawi said.

"He's not treated well in the prison regarding to his status as prisoner of war and president of Iraq."

Last week the Iraqi government said Saddam Hussein could face as few as 12 charges when he goes on trial.

There had been speculation he might face as many as 500 charges, but an Iraqi spokesman said there was no point "wasting time" with that many.

"We are completely confident that the 12 fully documented charges that have been brought against him are more than sufficient to ensure he receives the maximum sentence," government spokesman Leith Kubba told reporters on Sunday.

'Proportionate punishment'

Saddam Hussein faces the death penalty if convicted.

On Thursday, Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said he may well be put to death - but only if he is convicted before a transparent trial.

"We think that every crime has a proportionate punishment, but there can be no execution without proving the crime," he said.

However, Saddam Hussein's lawyers insist he is innocent of all the crimes of which he is accused - from the gassing of the Kurds to the murder of women and children found in mass graves in southern Iraq.

Mr Ghazzawi said the appropriate channel for the accusations was not through the media, but with a proper indictment issued through the court.

Listen to an interview with the lawyers' spokesman

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