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Saddam's lawyer reportedly in hiding
Updated: 2005-01-25 01:38

AMMAN, Jordan - An Iraqi lawyer on Saddam Hussein's defense team has received several death threats in the last three weeks and has gone into hiding, the chief defense attorney for the deposed Iraqi leader said Monday.

Khalil al-Duleimi, one of 25 attorneys representing Saddam, told other lawyers on the team that the threats followed his Dec. 16 meeting with the ousted Iraqi leader, according to chief defense attorney Ziad al-Khasawneh.

Saddam was arraigned in a Baghdad court in July 2004 on charges of war crimes and genocide. He is awaiting trial before a special Iraqi tribunal.

Al-Duleimi claimed that several messages were delivered to his home warning that "suicide cells had been formed specifically to liquidate him so that he would set an example to all other attorneys who have volunteered to defend President Saddam," al-Khasawneh said.

Al-Duleimi feared for the safety of himself and his family, so he went into hiding, al-Khasawneh said.

Saddam's legal team regards the interim Iraqi government as an "illegitimate" body installed by the United States following what they say was an illegal war aimed to control the country's oil wealth.

Al-Duleimi met with the ousted dictator in a Dec. 16 meeting that lasted more than four hours — the first time Saddam met with a member of his Jordan-based legal team.

Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said last week the trial of Saddam and his 11 top lieutenants could begin shortly after Sunday's general elections. However, some U.S. and Iraqi officials have said preparations for prosecuting the former regime's top officials will take months.

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