Saddam Trial 'Would
Embarrass West' - Lawyers

By Elaine Ganley
Independent Online - South Africa
PARIS (Sapa-AP) -- The trial of Saddam Hussein will prove an embarrassment for the West, which curried favour with Iraq's dictator to cut lucrative deals before he fell from power, lawyers planning to defend him said Friday.
No date has been set for the trial and no charges have been filed. In fact, very few people even know where the defendant is.
Still, nearly two dozen lawyers are plotting out a strategy to defend the deposed dictator in case he is brought to trial. They contend any such process would be illegal and would embarrass the West.
"When we open the files, you'll see who will be guilty: Iraq or the US," said Jordanian attorney Mohammad Rashdan.
Rashdan, in Paris to confer with French colleague Emmanuel Ludot, said he was hired by Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah. Rashdan said he handled two government cases for Saddam when he was in power and knew him personally. He now heads a committee of 20 lawyers working on Saddam's behalf.
Ludot denounced what he said was the hypocrisy of any trial.
"A trial will embarrass the Western world," Ludot said. "President Saddam was (the West's) client. (The West) did belly dances for him" to sell their products, he said.
Salem Chalabi, the top executive on the Iraqi court that could try Saddam, has said the case against the former dictator would be built on key incidents while he was in power, such as the invasion of Kuwait and the massacre of Kurds in Halabja in a chemical attack.
The United States estimates that Saddam's regime killed at least 300 000 Iraqis. However, some human rights groups say the number is closer to 1 million.
Rashdan dismissed the March 28, 1988, attack in the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed at least 5 000 as a "detail" and claimed that it was Iran - not Iraq - that carried out the attack. The two nations were at war at the time.
Autopsies showed that it was an Iranian chemical that killed the Kurds.
"We are sure that the government of Iraq didn't use chemical weapons in Halabja," he said. "When we are at the trial, you will see the documents."
It has long been established that the chemical attack was launched by Iraqi planes on the autonomy-seeking Kurds in the dying days of Iraq's eight-year war with Iran. Iranian soldiers suffered long-term injuries from chemicals in places far from Halabja, like Abadan, the southwestern Iranian border city.
Both lawyers contend that any trial will be illegal because the United States invaded Iraq without UN backing, captured Saddam illegally and is detaining him illegally. Both lawyers refer to the former dictator as "President Saddam", contending that he is still the legal leader of Iraq.
Lawyers are working to get any trial held outside Iraq. Ludot has predicted the trial will lead to a swift guilty verdict and Saddam's execution.
If by the end of the year no trial is in sight, Ludot said that lawyers will seek to have Saddam freed.
"We're in illegality from the beginning to the end," he said.
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