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Saddam lawyer wants trial in neutral state
Updated: 2005-06-13 09:52

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein should be tried in another country, preferably Sweden, rather than Iraq, one of his defense lawyers said on Sunday.

"We invite the Iraqi government and the prosecutors to hold this trial, if there is to be a trial, not in Iraq where it's not safe to hold the trial, but to hold it either in the Hague or in Sweden or in Austria or even in Switzerland," British-based lawyer Giovanni di Stefano said.

"I would favor Sweden more than any other country -- where we are likely, more than not, a) to obtain a fair trial, and b) in the unlikely event that our client is tried and convicted, he can go straight to a detention center in Sweden," he told the Swedish public television station SVT.

An Iraqi Special Tribunal, set up in late 2003 to try senior members of the former regime, said last week that no date had yet been set for the trial of Saddam, who was taken into custody in December 2003.

Di Stefano, part of a defense team of over 20 hired by Saddam's family to defend him against charges likely to include the killing of thousands of Iraqis, criticized the process.

"To date we have not even one piece of paper, one document, one charge, one indictment, one allegation. We have speculation," he said.

Under Iraqi law, Saddam can be sentenced to death if convicted. But di Stefano said the defense team had received assurances that the former dictator would not be executed.

"The Americans and the British and the Italians will not allow that. They will not allow the death penalty to be imposed," he said.

"And the president of Iraq has confirmed to us he will be signing no warrant of execution as would be required under Iraqi law. He has made his position clear."

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson has said Saddam, 68, could be allowed to serve a prison sentence in militarily non-aligned Sweden, which opposed the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam.

Former Serbian president Biljana Plavsic is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence in Sweden after being convicted as a war criminal.

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