"We received scores of verbal and written requests from Iraqi citizens, the man-in-the-street kind, appealing to have President Saddam run for elections," said lawyer Issam Ghazawi on Wednesday.

Ghazawi was one of three lawyers who attended Saddam's resumed trial in Baghdad on Monday.

He said the Iraqis who approached the defence team also had expressed frustration with the current violence and poor conditions inside the country.

Ghazawi's claims could not be independently verified, but some Iraqis are known to still support Saddam, and Iraqi expatriates in Jordan have voiced similar complaints and feelings.

Ghazawi said the other lawyers who were approached by people in the hotel, airport, restaurant and the street were former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ex-Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi. All three serve as advisers to Saddam's lead Iraqi lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi.

"It is possible that we may consider at some point examining the legal aspect of having Mr Saddam run for elections..."

Issam Ghazawi,
Saddam defence team

Clark told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had met Saddam in Baghdad on Monday and had found him in "very good spirits".
 
Saddam lawyers contend that he is still the legal president of Iraq.

Legal validity

Ghazawi said the legal team might at some point examine whether it is legally possible to have Saddam run for elections.

He said the requests from Iraqis that he and the other lawyers received on the issue "may not be valid, considering that under Iraqi law, Mr Saddam is the legitimate and current president of Iraq and it's unlikely that he can be re-elected in the midst of his rule".

"It is possible that we may consider at some point examining the legal aspect of having Mr Saddam run for elections, although there is no previous precedent to have an Iraqi leader get re-elected during his reign," he said.