By kanwal tariq hameed
A BAHRAINI defence lawyer for Saddam Hussein says he has been barred from court proceedings by Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman because he asked the prosecution to prove that the man on trial is actually Saddam Hussein.
Isa Faraj Burshait said he based his request for proof of identity on an earlier claim by the US that Saddam used doubles to protect himself and that he had a "duplicate".
"The new judge cancelled my name - he said Isa Burshait must not come to the court," Mr Burshait told the GDN.
"I said this government must prove that the guy in jail is Saddam Hussein and not another man - the case has been put forward by the Americans so the Americans have to bring proof that he is Saddam."
Mr Burshait was speaking to the GDN following the kidnapping and assassination of Khamis Al Obaidi, the third defence lawyer to be killed in Iraq since the trial began last October.
He said he knew Mr Al Obaidi and had refused to attend hearings in Iraq himself because of the threat to lawyers' lives.
Now he wants the case to be transferred to an independent international court, where he said proceedings would be transparent, honest and lawyers would be safe.
"I knew him (Mr Al Obaidi), he was an honest man and this is proof that this trial is not perfect," said Mr Burshait.
"If you kill the lawyers then how can you reach the facts?
"The new Iraqi government, if they say they came to Iraq to make it good then how come they've killed him - the police came to his house and took him.
"The case must be taken to an international court because in this court we will never get the truth.
"When they take it to the international court I will go, in Iraq there is no safety."
When asked about his opinion on the prosecution's demand for Saddam to face the death penalty made in a closing argument last week, Mr Burshait only said that he did not trust the judge or his verdict.
"We are doing everything we can because we want the truth," he said. "If there was a good judge you could trust him - but there is no trust."
Mr Burshait also claimed that a defence witness had been imprisoned and forced to sign documentation withdrawing his testimony from the court.
"We have four witnesses and after one of them went to the court the judge gave orders to catch him and the government pressured him to cancel the case," he claimed.
"They pushed him to sign 'I cancel my witness' and he cancelled."
Mr Burshait has previously said he believes Saddam is innocent of the crime he and his co-defendants are currently on trial for - the 1982 murder of 148 people in the mainly Shia town of Dujail, which followed an assassination attempt by members of the Da'wa party during the Iran-Iraq war.
The lawyer said he joined Saddam's defence team to fight the US and UK government's "duplicitous" actions, accusing them of deciding people are criminals and then orchestrating court proceedings to prove it.
He alleged that existing court proceedings are a sham to justify a verdict that has already been decided.
The trial is currently in a three-week recess, after which defence lawyers will sum up their case.
A verdict is expected to be issued by October, but can be appealed by the defence team.
Saddam is also facing a second trial for a military campaign against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, during which almost 100,000 people are said to have been killed.
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