Saddam Lawyer: Documents for Appeal Being Withheld

Saddam Hussein's lawyer on Wednesday accused the Iraqi court that sentenced the former president to death of ignoring his requests for the documents to appeal the guilty verdict.

Khalil al-Dulaimi, chief lawyer to the former leader, said in a written statement that the Iraqi High Tribunal was "deliberately procrastinating" to "obstruct defense efforts."

Five Iraqi judges on Nov. 5 sentenced Saddam and two other senior members of his regime to death by hanging for the killing of 148 people in the northern town of Dujail. The victims, who include children, were detained and tortured after a 1982 attempt to assassinate the then-president.

An appeals court is expected to rule on the verdict and death sentence by mid-January. Saddam's defense team must present an appeal to a higher, nine-judge panel by Dec. 5.

Click here to go to's Iraq Center.

If the nine-judge panel upholds the death sentence, it could be implemented early next year, according to a schedule announced last week by chief Iraqi prosecutor Jaafar Moussawi.

There was no immediate comment from Iraqi court officials.

"The court lacks the standard of a fair trial (because) it is still pursuing the path to obstruct the efforts of the defense team to submit a legal cassation appeal against the unjust verdict rendered against President Saddam," al-Dulaimi said in his one-page English-language statement.

"The verdict against President Saddam Hussein is purely political and all the conditions of a fair trial — as stipulated under international law — have been gravely violated, including the right to appeal the verdict in a court of cassation," he said.

"The Defense is not yet provided with copies of the verdict and incrimination decisions despite the fact that 10 days have passed," al-Dulaimi said. He claimed that he communicated with the court, in writing and in person, several times in the last few days, but that he received no response.

"This period, which was deliberately and intentionally wasted and exhausted, is part of the 30-day period allowed for submitting cassation submissions," he added.

"We hold the court responsible for this grave and continued violation of our client's right to submit a cassation," he said. He demanded that the court provide him with the necessary documents "within 24 hours."

Moussawi, the chief Iraqi prosecutor, said the Iraqi High Tribunal must send the entire case file to the appeals panel within 10 days, or by Nov. 15.

Saddam's defense team would then be required to submit its appeal to the tribunal by Dec. 5.

Neither of the final two steps, the preparing of a brief on the appeal by the prosecutor and the court's ruling, is governed by a time limit.

However, Moussawi has told AP he would submit his brief within days of receiving the appeal and predicted that the court would also act quickly because currently it is not considering other cases.

Al-Dulaimi urged unnamed legal international organizations to help "stop the human rights violations in this trial."

He accused the United States of "using this trial to aggravate the state of division and civil fighting" in Iraq. "Iraqi blood is still being shed daily due to the existence of the illegal occupation, while the world is idly watching the events in Iraq."