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The Arab lawyers' union has formed a "defence committee" for former president Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi prisoners, the Cairo-based organisation's deputy secretary general said Monday.
Saber Ammar told AFP that the new committee met here Saturday with lawyer Emmanuel Ludot from the northern French city of Reims as part of an effort to co-ordinate Saddam's defence through an international network of lawyers.
The committee could also co-operate with Jacques Verges, another French lawyer, who has been asked by a member of Saddam's family to head the defence of the ousted dictator who is held by the US-led coalition in Iraq, he said.
Ammar said the Arab lawyers' union was in contact with the Iraqi union of lawyers, but it had had "no contact" on a Saddam trial with the Iraqi Governing Council or the US-led occupation authorities.
The Iraqi union is following up on the ground, he said.
"We do not yet know the nature or the format of the trial which will be instigated, or the place, whether in Iraq or abroad, which will be chosen to try" Saddam, said Ammar.
Verges announced Saturday in Paris that he had accepted a request from Saddam's family to defend the former president whose brutal rule was ended by invading US-led troops last April.
The veteran lawyer has made clear that he will call Western leaders, who backed the Saddam regime in the past, particularly during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, to take the witness stand.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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