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Iraqi government claims Saddam agents murdering defense lawyers to halt trial

[JURIST] A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari [Wikipedia profile] has claimed that agents supporting Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] murdered two defense lawyers involved in the trial [JURIST news archive] of the former Iraqi president and eight co-defendants in a bid to derail the proceeding. Adel Muhammad Abbas, a lawyer for Taha Yassin Ramadan [Wikipedia profile], was murdered in Baghdad [JURIST report] last week, three weeks after the kidnapping and murder [JURIST report] of Sadoun al-Janabi, a lawyer for Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a former chief judge of Saddam's Revolutionary Court. The remaining defense lawyers have cut off all contact with the trial court [JURIST report] and have called for the trial to be moved outside the country [JURIST report]. Sunday's London Times has more.

1:35 PM ET - Wire reports Sunday afternoon say that 1100 Iraqi lawyers on Saddam Hussein's "defense team" have now withdrawn from the trial, citing government inaction over their security concerns. The reports appear to be referring to some of the approximately 1500 legal advisors [AP report] who have been supporting chief Saddam defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi and his associate Abdel Haq Alani, an Iraqi-born lawyer based in Britain. Chief investigating judge Raid Juhi told reporters Sunday that the withdrawals would not affect the work of the trial court [official website], and that new lawyers would be named for the defense if members of the current team did not show up when the trial was scheduled to resume on November 28. AP has more.

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