- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

BAGHDAD — One of Saddam Hussein’s main attorneys was fatally shot yesterday after he was abducted from his Baghdad home by men wearing police uniforms. It was the third killing of a member of the former leader’s defense team since the trial started about eight months ago.

North of Baghdad, gunmen seized about 85 workers as they left an industrial plant, police and a witness said.

Witnesses said gunmen forced the workers into a bus and a minivan near the parking lot of the al-Nasr General Complex in Taji, a predominantly Sunni Arab area 12 miles north of Baghdad, police said. The workers were thought to be mostly Shi’ite.

Police said about 30 people — all women and children — were freed later after the gunmen checked their identity papers.

In the latest incident to roil the Saddam trial, lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented the former leader and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim, was abducted from his house in the morning, said Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam’s chief attorney. Mr. al-Obeidi’s body was found on a street near the Shi’ite slum of Sadr City, police said.

Mr. al-Dulaimi later said in Amman, Jordan, that Saddam and his co-defendants went on a hunger strike to protest the killing. “They pledged not to end the strike until international protection is provided to the defense team,” he said.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said members of the defense team had turned down an offer to live with their families in Baghdad’s heavily protected Green Zone.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli condemned the killing. He also said “every form of protection and assistance” is offered to the prosecution and defense, but “unfortunately, in the case of this individual, he refused” them.

Unlike Mr. al-Dulaimi, who shuttles between Amman and Baghdad, Mr. al-Obeidi lived in the predominantly Sunni Arab neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad.

Mr. al-Obeidi, who was in his 50s and had six children, was the third member of Saddam’s defense team to be killed since the former leader’s trial began Oct. 19.

A dozen masked gunmen abducted defense attorney Saadoun al-Janabi the day after the trial’s opening session. His body was found the next day with two bullets in his skull. Nearly three weeks later, defense attorney Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.

Saddam is charged with crimes against humanity for a crackdown after a shooting attack on his motorcade as he visited the town of Dujail in 1982.

The prosecution presented its final arguments Monday, demanding the death penalty for the former Iraqi leader.

A day before the attack on Mr. al-Obeidi, the U.S. military recovered the bodies of two missing soldiers from an area south of Baghdad that it said was rigged with explosives.

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of five insurgent groups, said the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq executed the men personally.

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