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Saddam lawyer says Iraqi court controlled by US

[JURIST] American jurists control the court trying Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] by directing the judge and controlling meetings between the defense team and Hussein, one of Hussein's lawyers said Tuesday. In a Beirut news conference, Bushra al-Khalil, the controversial defense lawyer who has been thrown out of court twice [JURIST report], said a team of American jurists passes notes to Chief Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] during trial sessions at the Iraqi High Tribunal and watches proceedings from a surveillance room outside the courtroom that cannot be seen from inside the courtroom.

US officials responded by saying that Americans do advise the court, but do not control its decisions, noting that the American support team indeed works in an area of the courtroom without public access including the area al-Khalil mentioned. A court spokesman added that all decisions made by the court are "100 percent Iraqi." Al-Khalil's statements come shortly after the defense team accused prosecution witnesses of perjury [JURIST report], and later alleged that four defense witnesses accused of perjury were abused while in detention [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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