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Saddam's first meeting with defense counsel canceled

[JURIST] The chief of Saddam Hussein's defense team claimed Wednesday that the former Iraqi dictator's first meeting with a defense lawyer had been canceled after American authorities exerted pressure on the Iraqi Special Tribunal set up to try him and other members of his regime. Ziad al-Khasawneh said in an interview that the Iraqi Bar Association had obtained the court's permission for Khalil al-Duleimi, an Iraqi attorney, to meet with Saddam today, but that the Association abruptly told him that the meeting had been "indefinitely postponed." Al-Khasawneh claimed that the decision "appears to have come from the top, neither from the court nor from the Iraqi government because both have no say in front of Iraq's real ruler, the United States of America." Hussein is still being held in a US-operated facilty; American officials have to this point refused to let any member of his large and multinational defense team - some 20 lead lawyers from the US, Britain, France, Jordan, Lebanon and Libya, supported by 1500 volunteers, mostly from Arab countries - meet with him; he had no counsel present when he was arraigned before the Iraqi Special Tribunal on July 1. AP has more.

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