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Saddam attorney petitions for trial delay

[JURIST] The defense lawyer for Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] has filed a motion petitioning the Iraqi High Criminal Court, previously called the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website], to delay the first of Hussein's several expected trials set to begin on October 19 [JURIST report]. Khalil Dulaimi said he only gained access to the prosecution's evidentiary file over the weekend, and in his motion cited Rule 45 of the court's Rules for Proceedings and Evidence Gathering [PDF text], which requires the defense attorney to have such information at least 45 days before a trial. Dulaimi also pointed out that the prosecution has not identified over 100 witnesses giving testimony for an 800-page dossier against Hussein, and said the document should be sent back to an investigative judge. An anonymous court official said the tribunal will review Dulaimi's motion for an extension but that it will probably not be accepted since a previous member of Hussein's defense team received a copy of the prosecution's case file on August 10, which technically gave the defense the requisite 45-day time period. Earlier this month, Dulaimi said that the reorganization of Hussein's defense team would not give him enough time to prepare for the October trial date. The Los Angeles Times has more.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari [Wikipedia profile] responded Thursday to arguments by Saddam's defense team that they were not officially informed of the trial date by the Iraqi Special Tribunal, but rather by a government spokesman. Jaafari said: "Saddam's trial date is scheduled for October 19 and it is not possible to postpone this case which has already been pending for too long. Given that judicial authorities are independent we will not be interfering, but we have asked them to deal speedily, but without rashness, with the case." AFP has more.

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