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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Saddam defence lawyer shot dead
Khamis al-Obeidi
Police said Mr Obeidi's body was found near Sadr City
One of the main lawyers defending former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein at his trial has been shot dead.

Khamis al-Obeidi's body was found dumped in the capital, Baghdad, hours after he was abducted from his home.

Defence lawyers have frequently complained that they have not been given enough protection, calling the trial's fairness into question.

Two other defence lawyers were murdered last year in the early stages of the trial, which is set to end next month.

Chief defence lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said Mr Obeidi was abducted from his home in Baghdad's northern Adhamiya district at about 0700 local time (0300 GMT) by men wearing police uniforms.

Police said Mr Obeidi's body was found with several bullet wounds near the Shia district of Sadr City.

Unlike Mr Dulaimi, who travels between Amman in Jordan and Baghdad for security reasons, Mr Obeidi had continued to live in the Iraqi capital.

Saddam Hussein in court
Prosecutors have called for Saddam Hussein's execution

In a BBC interview after one of his colleagues was killed last year, Mr Obeidi strongly denounced what he called the "assassination", and complained that the trial lawyers mostly had to organise their own personal protection.

Another lawyer on Saddam's defence team, Bushra al-Khalil, blamed US forces for Mr Obeidi's death, saying they had changed security arrangements for the lawyers, putting their lives at risk.

US sources say they have offered tougher security but that it has always been rejected, the BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says.

Trial criticism

Mr Obeidi was in court on Monday to hear the prosecution team make its closing arguments.

The prosecutors called for Saddam Hussein and two of his seven co-defendants to be put to death for war crimes.

The trial has now adjourned and judges will consider their verdict after final defence arguments on 10 July.

The defendants deny being responsible for the deaths of 148 Shia Muslim villagers in the 1980s.

The men are accused of launching a crackdown in the village of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein.

The trial has so far lasted eight months and has been criticised by some international legal experts.

Some said the defence had been given a disproportionately short period to present its witnesses.

On 8 November two defence lawyers were shot in their car - one died. The previous month, one of their colleagues was abducted and was later found dead.

See Khamis al-Obeidi at the trial of Saddam Hussein

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