The lawyers are citing the kidnapping and murder of a lawyer representing one of the former president’s co-defendants the day after the trial opened last week.
A statement signed by Khalil al-Duleimi, who leads the Saddam hundreds-strong defence team, said poor security put the lawyers and their families in danger.
“Due to the extreme deterioration of the security situation in Iraq, and the repercussions facing the Iraqi defence team and their families, we are stopping all dealings with the court until the situation is reversed,” said the statement on Wednesday sent to The Associated Press.
Al-Duleimi arrived in Amman, the Jordanian capital, earlier on Wednesday for meetings with other members of the defence team, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. It was not known if al-Duleimi would meet with Saddam’s family members living in Amman.
Al-Duleimi did not answer repeated telephone calls from reporters.
The statement also claimed “US troops had attacked al-Duleimi’s office and documents and money were stolen.”
No other detail
There was no other detail given to support the charge, which also called on “US and Iraqi forces to stop assaulting the homes and offices of Saddam’s defence team.” There was no immediate comment from the US military.
“One Iraqi lawyer was assassinated and others received several death threats, and they don’t trust either the Americans or the Iraqi government”
The move to suspend dealings with the Iraqi court was prompted by last week’s assassination of Saadoun Sughaiyer al-Janabi, lawyer for Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former head of Saddam’s Revolutionary Court.
Al-Janabi was kidnapped by armed men wearing police and military uniforms who walked into his Baghdad office last Thursday. Hours later, his body, bearing signs of torture, was found on a sidewalk near a Baghdad mosque.
Saddam’s Jordan-based legal support team also said on Wednesday that it would seek United Nations protection for the Iraqi lawyers because they do not trust either the US military or the Iraqi government to ensure their safety.
“One Iraqi lawyer was assassinated and others received several death threats, and they don’t trust either the Americans or the Iraqi government,” a lawyer who advises the Saddam team, Issam Ghazzawi, told The AP in a telephone interview.
He said he was drafting a petition to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asking the world body to provide protection for Saddam’s lawyers. He also urged the UN to lead an international investigation into al-Janabi’s murder.
On Tuesday, Jordan‘s Bar Association held a rally to protest against Saddam’s trial calling it a “farce.”
“This mimic trial is controlled by the empire of evil and aggression, the United States. It is the custodian of the organised international terrorism, carried by pawns of the occupation,” the president of Jordan’s Bar Association, Saleh Armouti, said, calling the Saddam trial “illegitimate.”