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Saddam lawyer to seek 3-month adjournment
Updated: 2005-10-19 07:04

However, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite who actively opposed Saddam's rule during years in exile, showed his eagerness to see any sentence carried out.

"We are not trying to land on the moon here," he said Monday. "It's enough (to try Saddam) on Dujail and Anfal. The tribunal is just and open, he has a defense lawyer and the verdict will match the crime."

He insisted the Dujail trial should not be drawn out. "What do we say to the people of Dujail who saw Saddam's aircraft burn their orchards and kill people?" he said. "This is unacceptable and I don't want to intervene in judicial proceedings, but why do we say now that more time is needed?"

Al-Jaafari, whose Dawa Party claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt in Dujail, leads a Shiite-Kurdish coalition government that came to office six months ago.

Many Iraqis, especially members of the Shiite majority and Kurdish minority — the two communities most oppressed by Saddam's 23-year regime — have also been eagerly awaiting the chance to see the man who ruled with unquestioned and total power in the defendants' dock answering for his actions.

However, some Shiites were sympathetic toward Saddam on the eve of his trial.

"How can Saddam get a fair trial when there's no government in Iraq? How can they try him?" asked Ismail Makki, a poor Shiite Muslim from the southern Iraqi city of Basra, as he hawked fruits and vegetables in a bustling downtown marketplace in Amman, in neighboring Jordan.

"There's no water, electricity, or security," he yelled. "If he stayed in power, it would be better for us."

At the same marketplace, Iraqi chemist Taher al-Sahab also defended Saddam.

"He is not guilty," said the Shiite from Karbala, one of his sect's holiest cities in Iraq. "He won't get a fair trial in Iraq."

Asked about Saddam's alleged massacre of thousands of his countrymen, al-Sahab said tartly: "Now, more Shiites are being killed in suicide bombings."

Others, however, were happy about what they view as a chance for retribution.

Mohammed Najm, whose brother disappeared after he was taken away by Saddam's police a decade ago, said he wants to see Saddam dead.

"Saddam needs no trial. He needs a guillotine," said Najm, a Shiite from Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, home to an estimated 2.5 million Shiites.

If Saddam's lawyer has his way, then Wednesday's hearing would, as expected, be taken up by procedural matters followed by a long break.

Al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press on Tuesday he wanted the three-month adjournment to prepare Saddam's defense and arrange for Arab and Western lawyers to join him.

He said he met with Saddam for 90 minutes Tuesday at a location other than the usual place of detention for the ousted Iraqi leader. He would not say where.

"His morale is very, very, very high and he is very optimistic and confident of his innocence, although the court is ... unjust," he said of Saddam, who has been kept at a U.S.-run facility at Baghdad International Airport since his capture by American troops in December 2003.

"We will dispute the legitimacy of the court as we've been doing every day. We will claim it is unconstitutional and not competent to try the legitimate president of Iraq," al-Dulaimi said.
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