Izz al-Din al-Majid, who was once Saddam's bodyguard, told Aljazeera.net on Tuesday that he would not get a fair trial in Iraq.

 

"I totally refuse the idea of trying President Saddam Hussein - this is illegal. He is still the legal president of the Republic of Iraq. But if there is no escape from holding a trial, then it should be in The Hague," he said.

 

Al-Majid defected with Saddam's sons-in-law Hussein and Saddam Kamil in 1995, but refused to return to Iraq in spite of a presidential pardon.

 

And even though he opposed Saddam's regime, al-Majid objected to America's treatment of him.

 

He said: "Though my differences with the president are known to everybody, I am terribly sad... If I had an army, I would immediately move to Baghdad to drive the occupiers and their supporters out of Iraq.

 

Iraq occupation

 

"What is happening now is illegal. How can some Iraqis feel happy to see the US army arresting an Iraqi figure? Don't they realise that these occupation forces came to our land to humiliate us?"

 

"What is happening now is illegal. How can some Iraqis feel happy to see the US army arresting an Iraqi figure? Don't they realise that these occupation forces came to our land to humiliate us?"

Izz al-Din al-Majid,
Saddam Hussein's cousin

Al-Majid's comments came after Saddam's three daughters called for him to be tried in an international court.

Speaking to a Dubai-based news network on Tuesday, the daughters - Raghad, Rana and Hala - said they would hire a lawyer to defend their father. 

And eldest daughter Raghad was adamant Saddam "should not be tried by the Iraqi Governing Council".

"How can we not hire a lawyer? This is the minimum right we owe him as his daughters," she told al-Arabiya television. 

Saddam's sister has also demanded that Saddam be tried before a world court.

Fair hearing

"We do not want a trial in Iraq. We demand a fair trial at the International Court of Justice (in The Hague) in the presence of Arab and foreign lawyers," Nawal Ibrahim al-Hasan told the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi.

Raghad added her father must have been drugged before he was captured by US forces.

"How do you believe they can capture him if they didn't drug him? I don't doubt it, I'm sure that they couldn't (have captured him otherwise)," she said.

"The truth is that I am proud this person is my father... We all know the intention of the way he was displayed. Where is the democracy? Where is the immunity that state leaders are granted? A lion remains a lion even when he is captured."

Several prominent lawyers have offered to defend Saddam after his capture by US troops in the Iraqi town of Tikrit on Saturday.

Presumed innocent

Saddam is now in American military custody in an undisclosed location inside Iraq where he is being interrogated.

French lawyer Jacques Verges, famous for representing Gestapo leader Klaus Barbie and international guerrilla Carlos the Jackal, said on Monday that Saddam must be presumed innocent at any trial.

 

Verges added that hiding him away was against international conventions. 

 

In Turkey, a lawyer from the western city of Izmir applied on Tuesday to be allowed to defend the former Iraqi president.

 

Eldest daughter Raghad says she
is proud of her father

In his petition to the Iraqi authorities, Atinc Gultekin accused the US of trying to turn "Saddam's trial into a show of power".

 

'A great man'

 

He offered to represent the former Iraqi leader to "make sure

that he is tried... without political pressure and in line with

international law in his home country".

 

And a Lebanese lawyer told Aljazeera.net she intended to send a letter to Saddam Hussein through the Red Cross in Lebanon.

 

In her letter, Bushra al-Khalil told Saddam: "Your image which appeared yesterday on TV showing you in the hands of those hypocrites made me feel that you are the only free Arab man, while... all other Arabs without exception are the real prisoners.

 

"We have to tell this great man that he is not alone, we are grateful to him, and we have not forgotten that he has been serving our just causes."

 

Execution

Meanwhile, the spokesman for Iraq's interim governing council said on Tuesday Saddam would get a "just and fair" trial that would become a symbol of a new, democratic Iraq. 

"I think the trial will be just and fair because all parties are interested in making it fair," Intifadh Qanbar said.

But one of the Iraqi tribunal's architects said the country's war crimes court would not be ready to try Saddam Hussein for months.

Dara Nur al-Din added any decision to execute Saddam would be in the hands of a transitional government set to be formed next year.