The Jordan-based committee, Isnad (Support), said it received an e-mail from its representative in Baghdad, Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, saying that his life was being targeted by three death squads.

 

Al-Dulaimi is the only Isnad lawyer so far allowed to visit Saddam Hussein in prison. Isnad is a coalition of lawyers set up to represent Saddam Hussein and all Iraqi detainees. So far, 1500 lawyers from around the world have joined the group.

 

Al-Dulaimi visited Saddam Hussein last December, recognising him as the president of Iraq despite orders from the US army to treat him as an ordinary citizen.

 

Legal violation 

Isnad's statement to Aljazeera.net said the plot against al-Dulaimi's life was a bid to terrorise any lawyer who might think of joining Isnad.

 

Isnad is also defending other
former government officials

"Threatening our colleague's life is another legal violation added to the long list of breaches made by US occupation forces to the international law and Geneva conventions," the statement said.

 

Ziad al-Khasawna, chairman of Isnad, told Aljazeera.net that it was not the first time lawyers representing the former president had received death threats.

 

"Mr al-Dulaimi did not elaborate in his letter about who formed the death squads, but I can say that several parties sent us in the past threats to give up our mission," said al-Khasawna.

 

"The most active party in this regard is the Badr Brigades of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI]."

However, SCIRI member Akram al-Hakim denied the allegations, saying death threats did not fall within its agenda.

 

"I am an authorised spokesman of Badr Brigades but as a SCIRI member I can assure you that this is not true" al-Hakim told Aljazeera.net.

 

"SCIRI has always urged that Saddam Hussein and members of his government must get a fair trial as soon as possible. I think some of the lawyers try to use such propaganda for their personal interest."

 

Protection

 

He added that al-Dulaimi was using his own resources and tribe to protect himself.

"Isnad members in Iraq number around 200 lawyers; unfortunately, we are unable to protect them due to our limited financial resources," al-Khasawna said.

 

Al-Dulaimi belongs to the powerful al-Dulaim tribe, prominent in the al-Anbar governorate in western Iraq.

 

The statement held the US administration and interim Iraqi government responsible for the safety of its members in Iraq.

Due to the ban on Aljazeera reporting in Iraq, it was not possible to get a comment from officials in the interim Iraqi government and US army in Iraq  
 

 

Saddam's legal team says that the Iraq Special Tribunal, which wants to try him and 11 of his government members on charges of crimes against humanity, is illegal and that the trial itself will be invalid.