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Hussein lawyer to Bush: Conviction will worsen Iraq strife

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The chief lawyer for Saddam Hussein warned U.S. President George W. Bush in a letter that if his client is found guilty in the Dujail trial, there will be more strife in Iraq and the region.

Attorney Khalil al-Dulaimi pressed for the release of Hussein and his seven co-defendants, who are expected to face a verdict November 5, two days before the U.S. midterm elections.

The lawyer accuses Bush of strategically arranging the verdict to be announced before the balloting.

Hussein and the other defendants are accused of crimes against humanity for a bloody crackdown against Shiite Muslims in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein in that town, north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The defendants face possible execution if found guilty.

The letter from al-Dulaimi, dated Saturday, was e-mailed to CNN's Baghdad bureau. Al-Dulaimi told CNN it was sent to the U.S. leader through the American Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Hussein penned a separate letter to the chief judge presiding over his trial claiming that the November 5 scheduling of a verdict in the case is an attempt to sway U.S. midterm elections by painting his conviction as a victory for the Bush administration.

Hussein's letter to chief judge Raouf Rasheed Abdul Rahman was dated October 22.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said he has not seen al-Dulaimi's letter to Bush, but responded to CNN's description of its contents:

"The trial of Saddam Hussein takes place in an Iraqi court, presided over by an Iraqi judge. Saddam Hussein and his attorneys should make their appeals to the people of Iraq, who suffered for so long under his brutal dictatorship."

Al-Dulaimi accuses Bush of working "behind the scenes" before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to plan the case against Hussein and predetermine the trial verdict, and blames the president for the devastation from the war.

"Your administration is legally and morally responsible for the mass destruction, sectarian sedition and civil fighting that have divided the Iraqi people," according to a translation of the letter by CNN.

"(The verdict) coincides with the midterm congressional elections and the U.S. administration trying to save its position through the verdict," the attorney says.

-- CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Elaine Quijano contributed to this report

Saddam Hussein is expected to face a verdict November 5.



Will Iraq face an upsurge in violence if Saddam Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity?
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