[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK
Saddam trial lawyer is found dead
Sadoun Nasouaf al-Janabi as the trial of Saddam Hussein and co-defendants opened
Mr Janabi's identity had not been kept secret
A lawyer who was defending an associate of Saddam Hussein has been found shot dead after he was abducted in Baghdad.

Sadoun Nasouaf al-Janabi, who was seized by gunmen at his office in the Iraqi capital on Thursday evening, had been shot in the head.

The killing has fuelled claims that it will be impossible for the former Iraqi leader to get a fair trial.

Mr Janabi was acting for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a former top judge.

The lawyer's body was found outside the city's Firdous mosque.

The Iraqi government condemned the killing.

'No witness protection'

Badie Izzat Aref, lawyer for former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who will also face trial, said: "If they can't protect lawyers, how are they going to defend their clients, and how will witnesses dare to come before the tribunals?"

Saddam Hussein's chief defence strategist, Abdel Haq Alani, an Iraqi lawyer based in Britain, told the BBC: "This incident has proved is what we've been all along saying, that there could be no fair trial in Iraq at this time, there could never be a fair and just trial simply because there's no authority.

"Can anybody imagine that a witness is going to step forward and appear for the defence? If the defence cannot present its witnesses and guarantee safety for them, what kind of a trial is this going to be?

"If lawyers are getting eliminated, executed... how am I going to convince an international lawyer to appear in Iraq in a court and give legal advice on issues of international law of which the Iraqis know very little, including the judges?"

And Miranda Sissons, a senior associate with the International Center for Transitional Justice, told Reuters news agency: "We and other rights groups have long had concerns about an effective witness protection programme for this trial.

"This murder highlights the lack of attention the court is paying to the defence and the defence's offices, which has implications for the equality of the trial."


There was tight security at the court as the trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants opened on Wednesday.

Four of the five judges and most of the prosecution lawyers have remained anonymous for safety reasons.

The names of the chief judge and the top prosecutor were the only ones revealed.

But the defence team's identities were not kept secret, and Saddam Hussein's top lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi, said many had been threatened.

The government has now offered protection to any defence lawyer who wants it.

Mr Bandar is one of six Baath party officials being tried along with Saddam Hussein over the killing of Shia Muslim villagers in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad in 1982, following an attempt on the then president's life.

The trial has been adjourned until next month but will hear testimony at the weekend from an ill witness.

Wadah Ismail al-Sheik, who was a top intelligence official under Saddam Hussein, will testify from his hospital bed on Sunday. He has cancer.

See Sadoun Nasouaf al-Janabi in court

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific