Lawyer: Saddam in 'Good Health, High Spirits'

Saddam Hussein is in good health and high spirits, the chief of his legal team reported Wednesday after a defense lawyer met with the deposed Iraqi dictator for six hours.

Ziad al-Khasawneh (search), who leads Saddam's defense team, said the U.S. captive met with lawyer Khalil al-Duleimi for six hours in Baghdad.

"He was in good health and high spirits," al-Khasawneh told The Associated Press.

Saddam was captured by U.S. forces in an underground hiding place near his hometown of Tikrit (search), Iraq, in December 2003 and has been in custody with several of his top henchmen at a U.S.-guarded detention facility near Baghdad's international airport.

Saddam will be tried before the Iraqi Special Tribunal (search) established in late 2003. The tribunal has given no official dates for starting trials.

Saddam turns 68 on Thursday. His defense team, which is based in Jordan, still considers him the legal president of Iraq.

It was Saddam's second meeting with a member of the legal team. U.S. forces have refused to allow family members to see him.

In July, Saddam was arraigned, without defense counsel, in an Iraqi court on charges that included killing rival politicians during his 30-year rule, gassing Kurds, invading Kuwait in 1990 and suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991.

Saddam's legal team, which includes at least 22 lead lawyers and 1,500 volunteers, was appointed by Saddam's wife, Sajida, and later endorsed by him.

The lead lawyers come from several countries, including the United States, France, Jordan and Libya. Most of the volunteer lawyers are from Arab countries.