Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saddam lawyer's murder blamed on interior ministry

A lawyer in Saddam Hussain's defence team blamed the Iraqi ministry of the interior for the assassination of his colleague Khamis Al Obaidi yesterday and said that the killing was meant to silence the defence team.





Former Qatari justice minister Najeeb Al Nuaimi, one of the lawyers for the former Iraqi leader, also blamed the Americans for failing to protect the defence team, but added that the assassination will not affect the trial.

"The responsibility for Al Obaidi's assassination lies with the Iraqi ministry of the interior … They have killed him like they have killed the others before. They are trying to hinder us from continuing our work," Al Nuaimi told Gulf News in Doha.

"The statements they [the Iraqi ministry of the interior] gave today about Al Obaidi's death are false … Officials from the ministry went to his house at 7 in the morning and asked him to accompany them for an interrogation. His wife was with him. After an hour his body was found dumped in an area of Baghdad called Hur. It was not true that he was found shot in a car," Al Nuaimi said.

Shopowners told reporters that three gunmen had dumped the body at a roundabout under a poster of a senior Shiite cleric killed by Saddam's agents in 1999. The cleric is the father of Moqtada Al Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army.

"They fired into the air and said 'this is the fate of Baathists!'," said a shopkeeper.The area is not far from the Sadr City slum, a stronghold of Sadr's militia.

Al Nuaimi said that the defence team had previously warned the US security forces of the risks Al Obaidi was exposed to, but their demands for tighter security went unheard."Al Obaidi was living in Baghdad without any guards. We asked the Americans to protect him. They did not believe he was running any risks. They gave him a pistol."

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