Abducted lawyer is found dead

Other defenders at Saddam Hussein trial demand protection by security guards


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants on trial for the Dujail mass slayings was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head and his body dumped near a Sunni mosque in the capital, Iraqi authorities said yesterday.

In a separate development, the U.S. military announced yesterday that four U.S. service members were killed in fighting a day earlier.

Saadoun al-Janabi, the attorney for the former head of Hussein's Revolutionary Court, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, was kidnapped Thursday evening when gunmen barged into his office, just one day after he sat in court for the first day of the trial for al-Bandar, Hussein and six of their co-defendants.

Al-Janabi's killing had immediate ramifications; one of the defense attorneys working on the trial said he and his colleagues would refuse to take part in the proceedings until they are provided guards paid for by the Iraqi government.

"Our demand is to have security protection for us," said Majeed Hedab Halhoul, an attorney for former Vice President Taha Ramadan and the former president's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan. "We want to choose the guards from people we know, because we do not trust the Iraqi government. The government should give them weapon passes and pay their salaries. We're going to keep boycotting until they meet our demands."

Halhoul also said the defense lawyers want the trial to be moved out of Iraq, a concession that the Iraqi government is highly unlikely to make. Hussein and the seven other former high-ranking Baathist regime members are on trial for a massacre in the Shiite town of Dujail in 1982 that left 148 dead.

All could face the death penalty if convicted.

Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, condemned the killing but made no mention of increasing security for the defense attorneys. He told the Associated Press that it was unclear whether the killing was an effort to derail the trial or the settling of a personal vendetta.

"The government exerts its best efforts to provide security for all people and all those involved in the trial, but we cannot provide total security because of the violence in the country," he said.

Halhoul said he twice made requests to the tribunal for security to be provided to the defense team - once before the trial and a second time with a written request that was handed to the presiding judge before the start of proceedings Wednesday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing.

Halhoul said that al-Janabi's office staff said the gunmen arrived at the lawyer's office in pickup trucks similar to the ones used by government security forces. Witnesses in the area and Halhoul said the gunmen announced that they were from the Interior Ministry when they entered the office to drag away al-Janabi.

The body was found in an open area behind a garage near the Sunni Al-Ferdos Mosque in the Ur district, a mostly Shiite enclave in the northeastern part of the capital near Sadr City. The Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, controls much of Ur district as well as the densely populated slums of Sadr City.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities said three Marines were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb near the town of Nasser Wa Salaam, about 25 miles west of the capital.

In a separate incident Thursday, an American soldier attached to a Marine unit in western Iraq was killed by indirect fire in the town of Hit.

Aamer Madhani writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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