Muhammad Al-Rashdan was responding to reports that Saddam's family members had appointed Jacques Verges to defend him in any upcoming war crimes trial.

The French lawyer is best-known for defending Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal.

Verges told Reuters in a telephone interview on Saturday that he had received a letter from Ali Barzan al-Tikriti - whose father Barzan al-Tikriti is Saddam's half-brother - asking him to defend the former Iraqi president.

But Al-Rashdan told Aljazeera.net that he and a fellow Jordanian attorney were looking after Saddam's legal interests.

"Saddam's daughter Raghad Saddam Hussein called on 14 December, 2003, one day after her father's imprisonment and asked me and Mr. Husayn Majalli to defend her father," he said in an exclusive interview in the Syrian capital, Damascus. 

"Legally Saddam Hussein and his closest family members are the ones who are eligible to grant the power of attorney" he said. "Not every member in the extended family can bestow that power."

Al-Rashdan confirmed that Saddam's daughters had not asked any other family members to engage the services of a lawyer.

"I can assure you that Saddam's daughters did not ask their relatives to authorise any lawyers to defend the president of Iraq."

Jordanian Bar Association

Majalli, who is chairman of Jordan's Bar Association, said it was unlikely that Saddam Hussein could have given anyone power of attorney to act on his behalf.

"It is not a case of who commissions who, the thing is no one has managed to contact president Saddam Hussein yet" Majalli said

"His daughters asked me to defend their father, but the Americans are banning him from meeting anyone."