- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

12:30 p.m.

BAGHDAD — One of Saddam Hussein’s main lawyers was shot to death today 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.

Khamis al-Obeidi, an Iraqi who represented Saddam and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim in their trial, was abducted from his house in the morning, said Saddam’s top lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi. His body was found on a street near the Shi’ite slum of Sadr City, police said.

Mr. al-Dulaimi blamed the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis have claimed is infiltrated by so-called Shi’ite death squads, for the killing. The Interior Ministry had no comment on the claim.

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.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants are charged with crimes against humanity for a crackdown after a shooting attack on Saddam’s motorcade as he visited the town of Dujail in 1982. They purportedly arrested hundreds of Shi’ites, including women and children, tortured some to death and killed 148 in all.

The prosecution presented its final arguments Monday, demanding the death penalty for the former Iraqi leader. After a three-week recess, the defense gets to sum up its case, then a panel of judges will begin deliberating.

A parked car bomb exploded near an ice cream shop in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City today, killing at least three persons and wounding eight, police said. It was the second attack in as many days in the sprawling Shi’ite district in eastern Baghdad.

Later, scores of Iraqi workers were abducted as they left work at an industrial plant north of Baghdad, police said. The number kidnapped was not clear, but police said they filled up a bus and a minivan.

The workers were seized at the al-Nasr General Complex in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. Under Saddam Hussein, the complex was a military plant.

The violence came a day after the U.S. military recovered the bodies of two missing soldiers from an area south of Baghdad that it said was rigged with explosives. A senior Iraqi defense official, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, said the bodies showed signs of torture.

The Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of five insurgent groups, claimed the new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq executed the men personally, but it offered no evidence.

The Shura Council also said in an Internet statement today that it has decided to kill four kidnapped Russian Embassy workers.

The group said Moscow had not met demands to fully withdraw its troops from the war-torn region of Chechnya. The four embassy workers were abducted June 3 in an attack on their car that killed a fifth Russian.

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