Sunday 04 July 2004, 17:10 Makka Time, 14:10 GMT
The head of Iraq's special tribunal charged with putting Saddam Hussein on trial has made contact with his defence counsel, the ousted Iraqi president's chief Jordanian defence lawyer said Sunday.
Salim Chalabi "telephoned me last night (Saturday) and said he wanted to facilitate the action of the defence team in the tribunal", Muhammad al-Rashdan told AFP.
But Chalabi insisted Iraqi law stipulates that Saddam's in-court defence lawyer be Iraqi - an interpretation that Rashdan takes issue with - although he said the Jordanian team has "begun contacts to choose an Iraqi lawyer".
Rashdan also told reporters that "several families" of 11 of Saddam's former top officials also set to go on trial had contacted him and that on Saturday, he was given power of attorney from the family of former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz.
AFP obtained a copy of the document, which had been signed by Aziz's wife Violette, their sons Ziad and Saddam, and their daughters Zainab and Maisaa.
Rashdan's team, so far denied entry into Iraq let alone access to Saddam, had renewed its request to do so with Iraqi legal and US military authorities.
A defiant Saddam appeared in court for the first time on Thursday to hear preliminary charges of crimes against humanity and denounced the legality of the court set up to try him.
He also refused to sign any papers without the presence of his lawyers.
Does the name Chalabi sound familiar? Salim is the son of Ahmed, the man who provided most of the hearsay evidence about Saddam's WMD program. the man who was the Bush Administration's choice to lead Iraq until it was revealed he was also working for the Iranians. Hopefully not 'like father, like son', being that Salim 'is the executive director of the special tribunal for Iraq and for those who will be charged with war crimes and other crimes against humanity' [CNN].