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Hussein's lawyers to seek another trial delay

Saddam Hussein, seen in court in July, is accused in the killing and torture of citizens in Dujail in 1982.


Taha Yassin Ramadan

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Lawyers for Saddam Hussein will seek a second delay in his trial, which is set to resume Monday, an attorney for the toppled Iraqi leader said Saturday.

The attorney, Khames Hameed al-Ubaidi, said the next trial proceeding -- which is expected to last three or four days -- does not provide enough time to do proper legal work.

He said the attorneys could not remain in the court for that period of time because they have duties they must attend to elsewhere. The attorney said it will be difficult to travel to and from the court. (Watch Iraqis call for Saddam's execution Saturday -- 2:10)

Ubaidi said he met for three hours Saturday with six other attorneys representing Saddam and his seven co-defendants to discuss trial coordination.

In this first case against Hussein on charges of crimes against humanity, the former dictator and seven other former regime members are charged with ordering the killing and torture of more than 140 civilians in the town of Dujail, 23 years ago, after a failed assassination attempt.

Lawyers said they haven't been able to devote all of their energies to the case because of security fears following recent attacks on attorneys connected with the case.

Delayed since October 19

The trial has been delayed since its opening day, October 19, when Hussein's lead attorney, Khalil Dulaimi, said most of the defense lawyers were not sufficiently experienced in international law and in cases of this magnitude.

He also said the defense team wasn't informed about the start of the trial until three weeks before it began -- which he said was in violation of Iraqi Special Tribunal regulations.

Dulaimi has insisted the defense team will not participate in the trial until a solution to protect its members is found.

Defense attorneys killed

Two attorneys working on the trial have been killed in the past two months.

Adil Muhammed al-Zubaidi, who was representing former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, was shot to death on November 8 in an attack that left another lawyer wounded.

On October 20, a day after the trial began, Sadoon Janabi was kidnapped and fatally shot in the head. Janabi had been representing Awad Hamad Bandar, the former chief judge of Hussein's Revolutionary Court.

Janabi had refused any protection from the government, according to an Iraqi government official, and willingly appeared on videotape during the previous day's court proceedings.

The United States is working with Iraq's Interior Ministry to investigate the killings. The Iraqi government insists it is committed to protecting the judges and attorneys in the trial.

On Wednesday, a U.S. official close to the Iraqi High Tribunal said the issue of security for the defense attorneys is expected to be addressed when the trial resumes.

The court is prepared to provide full security to everyone involved in the legal proceedings, the official said.

The court also has acted on attorneys' requests to have multinational forces and the Regime Crimes Liaison Office -- the arm of the U.S. State Department charged with assisting the court -- involved in security operations, the official added.

Security options for defense attorneys "are at least as good as those" being offered to other participants in the trial, the official said. (Full story)

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