Introducing The Saddam Legal Team

Hussein’s legal eagles, which “Scotland on Sunday” describes as a “20-strong international legal team based in Jordan [with a] back-up from some 1,500 volunteer lawyers, mostly from Arab countries.”

So just who exactly would volunteer to defend one of the most repulsive characters to walk the pages of recent history?

Tom Hughes, a solicitor from Tiverton, in Devon, England, is a surprise entry.

“The married father-of-three was approached… to join the team ‘to review principles of international justice surrounding the forthcoming trial’. Information on Mr Hughes from the Law Society shows not a specialist in international law but a typical country solicitor: areas of expertise include crime (including motor offences); family law; general litigation; debt and money advice; employment; and neighbour disputes.

Emmanuel Ludot -little is known outside his own country, except a for his penchant for controversial cases. In the past he represented a cancer sufferer suing over the Chernobyl disaster. In case you were wondering the suit wasn’t against the Soviet Union but the French government for allowing people to consume food possibly contaminated by the radioactive fallout over France. According to one recent report, “Mr Ludot… called the Iraqi penal code ‘Stone Age legislation’ and said it was ill-suited to Saddam’s case.” One would have thought it was very well suited.

Another French member of the team, Jacques Verges, famous – or notorious – as defender of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and international terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Charmingly, he “is said to have been a friend of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader behind Cambodia’s genocide.”

Another team member is British-based Giovanni di Stefano, multi-millionaire and former controversial director of Dundee football club. And a lawyer, apparently. Di Stefano has in the past rubbed shoulders with some interesting characters. He had this to say about the late Serbian ethnic cleansing mass murderer Arkan: “He loved me very much as a human being. And I liked him as a person. He had good morals. He was a good person. And I’m not ashamed of saying it.” He also claims to have met Osama bin Laden in Baghdad in 1998 (!): “He had a handshake like a woman. He had a soft voice. He spoke like a priest.”

Swiss barrister and academic Marc Henzelin has represented Iraqi-based Iranian mudjahedin, Argentinian arms dealers, and Saddam’s nephews and nieces whose Swiss bank accounts were frozen by the authorities.

Then there is American academic (Professor of Human Rights Law at American University in Cairo) and lawyer Curtis Doebbler. Doebbler is a former legal advisor to the Palestinian Authority, and has been representing suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay (or as this note delightfully puts it, he “served as an advisor to the Taliban on the laws of war”).

Lastly, Saddam’s defense team even gets Aysha Qaddafi, a daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi joined a 20-member defense panel for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the team’s chief Mohammad Rashdan announced yesterday.

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