Request to move Saddam trial to Sweden

A lawyer for Saddam Hussein said today he has asked the Iraqi government to transfer the trial of the ousted Iraqi leader to Sweden because of security concerns.

Giovanni di Stefano said he sent an email request on Friday to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other officials, telling them it would be too dangerous to hold the trial in Iraq.

Iraqi authorities have repeatedly dismissed suggestions they would agree to transfer the trial outside the country.

But di Stefano said Iraq should agree to move the trial abroad because no defence lawyers or prosecutors would be willing to spend a year or more in Baghdad for a trial.

“If they want to retain an element of credibility, it is the only solution. Not only will you get a fair trial but you will get safe trial,” di Stefano said, speaking by telephone from Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Di Stefano, one of many lawyers representing Saddam, previously contacted the government in Stockholm about the possibility of holding the trial there. The Swedish Justice Ministry told him such a request could only come from Iraq and the United Nations, he said.

On July 17, the Iraqi special tribunal filed its first criminal case against Saddam and three other top officials accused of involvement in the July 1982 massacre of an estimated 150 Shiites in the town of Dujail. The killings were allegedly carried out in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt on Saddam.

The former Iraqi dictator and several former regime officials are being investigated in at least 12 cases that include the 1987-88 campaign to drive Iraqi Kurds from wide areas of the north and for crushing the Shiite revolt in the south after US-led forces drove Iraqi invaders from Kuwait in 1991.

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