- PARIS (Sapa-AP) -- The trial
of Saddam Hussein will prove an embarrassment for the West, which curried
favour with Iraq's dictator to cut lucrative deals before he fell from
power, lawyers planning to defend him said Friday.
- No date has been set for the trial and no charges have
been filed. In fact, very few people even know where the defendant is.
- Still, nearly two dozen lawyers are plotting out a strategy
to defend the deposed dictator in case he is brought to trial. They contend
any such process would be illegal and would embarrass the West.
- "When we open the files, you'll see who will be
guilty: Iraq or the US," said Jordanian attorney Mohammad Rashdan.
- Rashdan, in Paris to confer with French colleague Emmanuel
Ludot, said he was hired by Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah. Rashdan
said he handled two government cases for Saddam when he was in power and
knew him personally. He now heads a committee of 20 lawyers working on
- Ludot denounced what he said was the hypocrisy of any
- "A trial will embarrass the Western world,"
Ludot said. "President Saddam was (the West's) client. (The West)
did belly dances for him" to sell their products, he said.
- Salem Chalabi, the top executive on the Iraqi court that
could try Saddam, has said the case against the former dictator would be
built on key incidents while he was in power, such as the invasion of Kuwait
and the massacre of Kurds in Halabja in a chemical attack.
- The United States estimates that Saddam's regime killed
at least 300 000 Iraqis. However, some human rights groups say the number
is closer to 1 million.
- Rashdan dismissed the March 28, 1988, attack in the Kurdish
town of Halabja that killed at least 5 000 as a "detail" and
claimed that it was Iran - not Iraq - that carried out the attack. The
two nations were at war at the time.
- Autopsies showed that it was an Iranian chemical that
killed the Kurds.
- "We are sure that the government of Iraq didn't
use chemical weapons in Halabja," he said. "When we are at the
trial, you will see the documents."
- It has long been established that the chemical attack
was launched by Iraqi planes on the autonomy-seeking Kurds in the dying
days of Iraq's eight-year war with Iran. Iranian soldiers suffered long-term
injuries from chemicals in places far from Halabja, like Abadan, the southwestern
Iranian border city.
- Both lawyers contend that any trial will be illegal because
the United States invaded Iraq without UN backing, captured Saddam illegally
and is detaining him illegally. Both lawyers refer to the former dictator
as "President Saddam", contending that he is still the legal
leader of Iraq.
- Lawyers are working to get any trial held outside Iraq.
Ludot has predicted the trial will lead to a swift guilty verdict and Saddam's
- If by the end of the year no trial is in sight, Ludot
said that lawyers will seek to have Saddam freed.
- "We're in illegality from the beginning to the end,"
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