Global Policy Forum

Lawyers Jostle to Represent Saddam

Agence France Press
March 29, 2004

A public tussle over who has the right to represent former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein broke out on Monday between a French and a Jordanian lawyer, each claiming they had been given the high-profile case by relatives of the ousted leader. Jacques Verges, a French lawyer who has won a controversial reputation for taking on Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal as clients, insisted that he had been "well and truly designated by relatives" of Saddam. On Saturday, he announced he had received a letter from Saddam's nephew Ali Barzan al Tikriti asking him to represent his uncle, who was captured by US forces in Iraq in December. Mr Verges brushed off a claim by Jordanian lawyer Mohammad Rashdan that he had not been legitimately appointed. Rashdan said he had been contacted by Saddam's wife and eldest daughter to personally represent the former Iraqi leader, and that Verges had no right to representation. But Mr Verges said "I am not going to spend my time in shopfloor quarrelling" with another lawyer, adding: "I have more urgent matters to tend to, with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Criminal Court."

Rashdan, who represented Saddam over Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and refuses to acknowledge that the former leader has since been deposed, said: "I have been designated in writing by the Iraqi president's wife, Mrs Sajida. He added that he "met with the president's daughter, Raghad, who has power of attorney in this issue, on the second and third day of the president's arrest" in December by US forces occupying Iraq. However, he said he had not been able to see Saddam and has been out of contact with Raghad, who was living in Jordan on condition of not taking any "political role". "Due to these circumstances we preferred not to meet with the president's daughters and we are working in a distance from them," Rashdan said.

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