Hasan Majally, head of the Jordanian Union of Lawyers, told Aljazeera.net on Monday that the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council "does not possess the potential to establish a just and professional court".

 

But Majally said his organisation hoped to defend Saddam Hussein if he were put on trial.

 

"Defending President Saddam is defending international legitimacy because we believe that occupation is the ugliest experience man can go through," he said. "He [Saddam] and everyone on this earth put on trial has the right to defend himself. "I think when President Saddam finds out that the committee which will defend him is comprised of Arab lawyers from different Arab countries he will accept because he is a pan-Arab figure."

 

Majally said he would expect the US to block his group's efforts. "However, I think they [Americans] are fully aware that they do not need another scandal." 

 

Council's views

 

But the Iraqi Governing Council has rejected Majally's accusations. It said it intended to put Saddam on trial in an Iraqi court and would resist calls for an international tribunal.

Only last week, the US-installed council announced that a special tribunal would be set up in Iraq to try former members of the Baathist regime.

The court would be staffed by Iraqis and judges would be appointed by the Governing Council. The trials would be open and there would be an appeal court.

The US has backed the Governing Council's calls. President Bush has said Iraqis need to be involved in Saddam Hussein's trial and it will have to be in public and "stand international scrutiny".