Masked gunmen threatened on Thursday in a videotaped message to behead any lawyers defending ousted Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.
"Saif al-Allah (The Sword of God) group, belonging to the Islamic Jihad, warns all those who defend the criminal case of the cowardly criminal Saddam...that we will sever your necks before you arrive," one gunman stated.
The gunman, from a previously unknown group, said in the tape given to Reuters that the warning was for "the Iraqi, Arab and foreign lawyers who have taken on the case of the criminal Saddam." "We will sentence you with cutting off your heads," one of the gunmen said, as they all drew out long glistening blades.
Saddam Hussein's trial is not projected to start any time soon but more than 20 lawyers, mainly from Arab countries ere jired by Saddam's wife Sajida. Many of them expressed fears about their personal safety in Iraq.
"We are getting one threat after the other," team coordinator Mohammed Rashdan said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a high profile Australian lawyer is the latest to join Saddam's defense team.
John Marsden agreed to help after being asked by a British lawyer. According to him, everyone was entitled to a lawyer - even the former Iraqi dictator.
"I don't have personal views as a lawyer on anyone, and I'm not judgmental of anyone," he told public radio. Marsden added that he was "happy to defend anyone".
Marsden denied taking on the Saddam case because of its high profile. "I've been involved in enough high profile cases in Australia, I don't need any more." (Albawaba.com)
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