Saddam lawyers scrap Iraq visit after threats
Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers based in Jordan said Wednesday that death threats had forced them to abandon a planned visit to Baghdad to support the ousted Iraqi leader.
Rashdan is coordinating the team of mainly Arab lawyers, who have a power of attorney from Saddam's wife Sajida Khairallah.
"We are getting one threat after the other," Rashdan said.
The lawyers voiced fears for their safety, citing remarks by officials against Arabs who defend Saddam as a hero.
But they said this week a convoy of buses was being arranged to transport lawyers to Baghdad, despite the risk.
Saddam, driven from power by U.S.-led forces in April 2003, appeared before an Iraqi judge last Thursday to face charges that could lead to a formal indictment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Saddam's supporters say he was denied a fair trial by being brought before an Iraqi court without a lawyer and independent judges.
Rashdan said a defense team would now go to Baghdad only if U.S. and Iraqi officials give them access to their client and afforded them protection. He said past requests had been ignored.
"There will be no visit to Baghdad until we get approval to see Mr. President Saddam and are given protection," Rashdan said.
Without a lawyer to represent him, Saddam refused to sign a statement acknowledging he had been charged and read his rights, including the right to legal counsel.