Saddam Hussein's lawyers won't recognize the Oct. 19 start of the former leader's trial because they claim they have not been notified of the date by the Special Iraqi Tribunal, the attorneys said Wednesday, AP reported.
The lawyers "will not recognize any date for the trial if it comes within weeks or months," said Khalil Dulaimi, Saddam's Iraqi lawyer, in a statement from Baghdad.
Dulaimi did not specify what the defense lawyers will do if no notification has been served by the time the trial opens.
Another Saddam lawyer, Britain-based Abdel Haq Alani, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from France that the legal team "must be served notice stating a trial date and that hasn't happened."
Saddam and seven other members of his toppled government are due to stand trial before the tribunal Oct. 19. They are charged with ordering a massacre of 143 people in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, in 1982 after a failed assassination attempt against the ousted leader. If convicted, Saddam could be sentenced to death.
"We are not dealing with media speculation or announcements about a trial made through the media," Alani told the AP. He declined to elaborate.
Saddam Hussein is questioned by chief investigative judge Raid Juhi (not in picture) in August 2005. [AFP/file]
But he and Dulaimi have said previously that they planned to challenge the legitimacy of the trial and tribunal before Oct. 19, citing international laws that dictate a court formed under occupation is considered invalid.
Dulaimi said Saddam's "rights are being gravely violated by the American and Iraqi authorities" and he claimed the ousted leader was being "prevented from exchanging legal documents with his lawyers."
No "attorney-client confidentiality is respected" during meetings between Saddam and his defense team, said Dulaimi, who added that he was not allowed to review the indictment against his client or any other court evidence.
Dulaimi also claimed that all his requests made to Iraqi or American officials "remain unanswered."
Iraqi officials have commented frequently about Saddam's case, including President Jalal Talabani, who claimed earlier this month that the toppled leader had confessed to Iraqi investigators �� an assertion Saddam's lawyers have denied.
Dulaimi called the Iraqi government's handling of the case "arbitrary and propagandistic" and accused it of meddling in judicial proceedings.
"Recent statements by Iraqi officials prove that the executive authority controls the case," he said.
The "trial of a detained president of state raises doubts about the impartiality, justice and seriousness of the tribunal and its procedures."