Muhammad al-Rashdan said he and fellow Jordanian lawyers Hatim Shahin and Ziad Khassawnih were to fly out on Monday to meet Libyan members of Saddam Hussein's defence committee, including Aisha al-Qadhafi.

  

"We want to discuss with our committee there the latest developments, to exchange views and prepare reports," al-Rashdan said.

 

"We also expect to meet Doctor Aisha because she is now a member of the committee."

  

Al-Rashdan said al-Qadhafi's daughter, a lawyer, had joined the defence team, which initially comprised 20 members, including European and US lawyers appointed by Saddam Hussein's wife and three daughters.

 

Green light

  

Al-Rashdan also said the defence team was waiting for a green light from the Iraqi Bar Association to allow them to travel to Iraq and meet the ousted president ahead of appointing an Iraqi lawyer to defend him.

  

"We want to meet
our client before we
take any decision"

Muhammad al-Rashdan,
chief, Saddam defence team

The Jordan-based legal counsel sent formal requests on Saturday to the association and a US colonel seeking authorisation to travel to Iraq.

  

The same day, al-Rashdan received a phone call from the head of the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST), charged with putting Saddam Hussein on trial, who insisted that according to Iraqi law, the ousted president's in-court defence must be Iraqi.

  

"He said he will be sending us a copy of this law. We are still waiting," said al-Rashdan. "We want to meet our client before we take any decision" to appoint an Iraqi lawyer.

  

Al-Rashdan also said he plans to visit France soon to meet French legal experts, after Paris said it recognised the legitimacy of the IST which was set up by decree by former US occupation administrator Paul Bremer.

  

"We would love to know how France, a bastion of the rule of law, has come to that conclusion and on what basis it has conferred legitimacy on the court," al-Rashdan said.