As relatives of two kidnapped U.S. soldiers awaited DNA test results on bodies found Monday in Iraq, one of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was abducted — and shortly thereafter, found shot to death. He's the third member of the legal team to be murdered.
The lead lawyer for the deposed Iraqi ruler, Khalil al-Dulami, says another member of the legal team - Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim in their eight-month-old trial - was abducted at 7 a.m. from his home in Baghdad by men wearing police uniforms.
Police say Al-Obeidi was later found shot to death on a street near Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.
Sunni Arabs were dominant under Saddam's rule but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster in April 2004.
Al-Dulaimi shuttles between Amman, Jordan, and the Iraqi capital but al-Obeidi chose to continue to living in Baghdad, despite the dangers there, heightened by his role as a member of Saddam's defense team.
Reacting to the assassination, Al-Dulaimi Wednesday blamed the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis claim has been infiltrated by Shiite death squads.
"We strongly condemn this act and we condemn the killings done by the Interior Ministry forces against Iraqis," he said, adding that U.S.-led forces also bear responsibility because the war has allowed Shiite militias to gain influence in Iraq.
A dozen masked gunmen abducted defense lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi from his Baghdad office the day after the trial's opening session in October. His body was found the next day with two bullets in his head. Nearly three weeks later, defense lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in a brazen daylight ambush in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.
The defense has asked Iraqi authorities for increased protection and threatened to boycott the trial unless this was provided.
The deposed leader and the other seven are charged with killing more than 140 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.
In other recent developments: Relatives of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon, are awaiting the results of DNA tests to definitively determine whether the bodies found in Iraq Monday are those of the missing soldiers. Menchaca and Tucker disappeared Friday during an attack on a checkpoint south of Baghdad, in which another GI was killed.
Iraqi officials said Tuesday the Americans were first tortured and then killed in a "barbaric" way. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the U.S. soldiers, and said al-Zarqawi's successor had "slaughtered" them, according to a Web statement that could not be authenticated. The language in the statement suggested the men were beheaded.An al Qaeda-led insurgent group said in a Web statement Wednesday that it has decided to kill four kidnapped Russian Embassy workers after a deadline for meeting its demands passed. The statement did not say whether the decision has been carried out. The Mujahedeen Shura Council said Moscow failed to meet its demands for a full withdrawal of troops from Chechnya and that a 48-hour deadline set in a statement issued Monday had run out. The four embassy workers were abducted on June 3 in an attack on their car in which a fifth Russian was killed.A parked car bomb also exploded near an ice cream shop in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City on Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding eight, police Capt. Sattar Jabar said. A source says the U.S. military is to release Wednesday a report saying that two GIs originally said to have been killed in a 2004 ambush in Iraq were in reality murdered by one or more Iraqi officers who were on patrol with them. The families of California National Guardsmen Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr. and 1st Lt. Andre D. Tyson are to be briefed Wednesday on the conclusions of investigators.President Bush, meeting with European leaders at the EU summit in Vienna, Austria, is urging allies to make good on their pledges of financial assistance for Iraq's reconstruction. A top advisor to the president declined to name the countries that have not yet delivered, but said the president believes that coming up with the money now is crucial to the success of Iraq's new government. The administration says only $3 billion of $13 billion promised has gone to Baghdad.Some 21,000 Army soldiers and Marines have been informed that they will be sent to Iraq late this year as part of the latest deployment rotation. The Pentagon says the four major combat brigades will be replacing troops returning home and therefore the announcement does not signal an increase in troop strength in Iraq.Australia says it will review its troop deployment to Iraq by the end of this year – an announcement signaling for the first time a possible timeline for withdrawing its troops. Australia has around 1,320 troops in Iraq and the Middle East, including 460 troops guarding Japanese reconstruction efforts in Iraq's southern Muthana province.Japan ordered the withdrawal of its ground troops from Iraq on Tuesday, declaring the humanitarian mission a success. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said the 600 non-combat troops, deployed in early 2004, helped rebuild infrastructure in the area where they were based. He also pledged further aid to Iraqi reconstruction.