Lawyers for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein have said he has asked to meet a former US attorney general who is a member of his defence team, but he is yet to hear from the authorities.
A statement on Monday issued by the team, which goes by the acronym ISNAD, said Saddam asked the special tribunal set up to try him, for a meeting with former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, but his request had not been answered yet.
The statement, which was sent to Aljazeera.net, said the team's representative in Baghdad, lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, had met Saddam on Thursday.
The statement expressed concern over the lack of access for Saddam, and said it could not start preparing his defence unless Saddam enjoyed full access to his counsel.
A defence team member, Isam al-Ghazzawi, told Aljazeera.net the team's representative in Baghdad had asked for permission for Clark and other lawyers to meet their client.
"The request has always been put on hold, but last Thursday the president himself asked to meet Clark and other lawyers, but the only answer we have been getting is: 'If God is willing'," al-Ghazzawi said.
Clark, who was attorney-general under President Lyndon Johnson, joined Saddam's defence team in December.
Relationship with Saddam
Clark, known for his left-wing political views, opposed the 13-year UN sanctions and war on Iraq. He visited Iraq several times during the years of sanctions and developed a warm relationship with Saddam.
Ex-US attorney general Ramsey
Clark joined the team in December
Al-Ghazzawi said Saddam was being treated normally in his prison.
"We can say he has been treated well so far, but, in general, the approach of US members in the special tribunal is much better than that of Iraqi members," al-Ghazzawi said.
Saddam was captured by US forces in Iraq on 13 December 2003, but he and his defence team still believe he is the only legitimate president of Iraq, saying his government never signed a surrender document.
A Lebanese lawyer and member of Saddam's defence team, Bushra al-Khalil, accused some parties in Iraq of indulging in character assassination against those who carry an "Iraqi national agenda".
Al-Khalil, a Lebanese Shia Muslim, was referring to Thursday's assassination of lawyer Mijbil al-Shaikh Isa, who was a Sunni member of the commission drafting Iraq's constitution.
"He (the lawyer) called me from Jordan a week before his martyrdom and told me that he had received death threats" she told Aljazeera.net.
"He said he and a number of his colleagues were strongly opposing the attempts to consolidate federalism and distribution of wealth on ethnic basis.
Al-Khalil said there was a campaign
of character assassination
"He never yielded, and those who gunned him down are the same parties who want to divide Iraq into small and powerless sectarian entities" al-Khalil said.
Al-Shaikh Isa had told Aljazeera.net a month before his death the problem lay in the Iraqi interim constitution approved by the former US governor in Iraq, Paul Bremer.
Al-Shaikh Isa said the interim constitution used sectarian divisions in parts of Iraq while using ethnic divisions in other parts according to the US interests in Iraq.