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US defends legitimacy of Saddam trial after lawyer murdered

[JURIST] US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli [official profile] has said that the trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] is fair and legitimate, despite the murder of a third defense lawyer [JURIST report] Wednesday morning. In a press briefing [transcript] Wednesday, Ereli stated:

The trial of Saddam Hussein...an Iraqi-led process and something that the Iraqi Government and Iraqi people have devoted enormous care, attention and legitimacy toward and that had the support of the United States and the international community. So it remains a viable, legitimate, credible and important process.

There are obviously those who want to undermine it for the same reason that they seek to attack various aspects of the Iraqi state and the Iraqi people: Because they want to attack and undermine the rule of law and the values of a democratic pluralistic society. So they go after lawyers, they go after judges, they go after prosecutors, they go after witnesses. And those who support the process and who support the trials have tried to institute protections for the process and for the individuals involved in that process, whether they'd be on the side of the prosecution or on the side of the defense...

I would note that the Iraqi Government and the international community offer every form of protection and assistance to those involved in the trial...And unfortunately in this case and this individual, he refused those protections and refused those offers. But I would say that there is a strong commitment both materially, politically and, in terms of security, to ensure the integrity and security of those involved in this process because there's a recognition of its importance, its value and its legacy for Iraq.
Hussein defense lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi was abducted and killed Wednesday, just two days after the prosecution presented their closing arguments in the trial, calling for the death penalty [JURIST report] for Hussein and four of his co-defendants. Hussein and his co-defendants began a hunger strike [JURIST report] late Wednesday to protest the murder of al-Obeidi and to call for additional security for the defense team. AFP has more.

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