BAGHDAD, Iraq – The corpse of a defense attorney for one of Saddam Hussein’s fellow accused, two bullet holes in the head, was found Friday dumped outside a mosque, a day after the man appeared at the opening of the former Iraqi leader’s trial, Iraqi authorities said.
Human Rights Watch warned that the killing of the lawyer, Saadoun Janabi, would have a chilling effect on all sides in the trial, and urged U.S. forces to provide security for anyone in the trial who asks for it.
“It highlights real concerns that we’ve had for quite some time about conducting the proceedings here in Iraq, considering the insurgency and the security challenges,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director for the rights organization.
The identities of all but one of the judges and most other court officials were concealed by tight camera shots in the opening day of the trial on Wednesday. Witnesses in the trial will have the option of appearing with their faces screened. But Janabi and the 12 other defense attorneys appeared on camera.
Janabi was representing Awad Haman Bander, the former head of Saddam’s Revolutionary Court. Saddam, Bander and six others from the former government face death if convicted on charges of murder and torture in the 1982 executions of 148 Shiite men and boys from the town of Dujail after Saddam’s motorcade was ambushed there in a failed assassination attempt.