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UN concerns over Saddam trial mount as Iraqis stymie planned rocket attack on court

[JURIST] A United Nations human rights official said Sunday that the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] will never be able to satisfy international standards, citing recent attacks on defense lawyers [JURIST report] and flaws in the Iraqi justice system. John Pace, human rights chief at the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq [official website], said there has been a "paralysis in the legitimacy of the defense" since the lawyers have not been able to work freely and effectively in order for the trial to be fair, and also questioned delays in the trial process [JURIST report] which has only included two brief hearings to date. The UN is not involved in the trial and many rights groups have called for the Saddam trial to be heard in an international war crimes court like those for Rwanda and Yugoslavia [JURIST news archives], but the US opposes such a forum. Pace also expressed serious concern over the detentions of Iraqis in both US and Iraqi prison facilities, including the discovery of a Interior Ministry bunker [JURIST report] where 173 underfed detainees showing signs of torture were found last month. Pace said that any prisoners being held in facilities not operated by the Iraqi Ministry of Justice [Global Security backgrounder] are technically being held illegally, including the detainees in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive], because the prisoners have no "real recourse to protection." Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, Iraq's national security advisor said Sunday that Iraqi officials have intercepted a plot by the Sunni-led 1920 Revolution Brigades to launch rockets at the court building when Saddam's trial resumes on Monday [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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