Da The Daily Star del 22/06/2006
Originale su http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&a...

Gunmen abduct, kill senior defense lawyer for Saddam

Al-qaeda in Iraq threatens to slay 4 Russian Embassy staff

One of Saddam Hussein's main lawyers was shot dead Wednesday after he was kidnapped from his home, while Al-Qaeda's allies said they would kill four Russian Embassy staff because Moscow failed to meet their demands. In another day of rampant chaos, gunmen abducted at least 80 Iraqi factory workers just north of Baghdad, police and Interior Ministry sources said.

Lawyer Khamis al-Obaidi was snatched from his home in the predominantly district of Adhamiyya at about 7 a.m. by about 20 men in police uniform, a security official and his wife said.

"They said 'We're from internal security and we need you for questioning'," Qatari attorney Najeeb al-Nuaimi told Al-Jazeera television. Two hours later, Obaidi's body was found dumped on a road.

The attack appeared very similar to the killing of another lawyer the day after the televised trial began in October.

A police officer who identified himself as Captain Sabah said Obaidi had been shot eight times and there were signs of torture, both his arms were broken.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said the killing would "not affect or delay the trial and we will defy terrorism," despite calls by chief defense counsel Khalil al-Dulaimi for the trial to be suspended and the defendants to be taken abroad for safety.

"We hold the US and Iraqi governments, and particularly militias, responsible for Obaidi's killing," he told Reuters.

Shop owners told Reuters three gunmen dumped the body of Obaidi at a roundabout under a poster of a senior Shiite cleric killed by Saddam's agents in 1999. The cleric is the father of Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Mehdi Army militia.

"They fired into the air and said 'This is the fate of Baathists!'" said a vegetable seller whose shop is 10 meters from where the body was dumped.

A Western official close to the court said Obaidi was offered protection but had turned it down. Nuaimi told Jazeera other defense lawyers had received

written death threats from pro-government Shiite militias.

In Moscow, the Foreign Ministry urged a group linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq not to kill the four hostages and to heed calls for their release.

"We once again strongly appeal for them not to take an irretrievable step and to keep our people alive," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in the statement.

The group, in an Internet posting, said Wednesday it has decided to kill the hostages after Moscow failed to meet demands to withdraw from Chechnya and free Muslim prisoners.

"After granting the Russian government 48 hours to meet our demands and their failure to do so ... the Islamic court of the Mujahideen Shura Council ruled to kill them [hostages]," said the statement posted on a Web site often used by militants.

The statement's authenticity could not be verified and it was unclear when the hostages might be killed.

Four Russian Embassy staff were kidnapped and a fifth was shot dead when gunmen blocked their vehicle in a Baghdad district on June 3. A sister of one of the hostages - a Muslim - pleaded on Arab television for his captors to spare the men.

"I beg you to pardon them and release them. You are Muslims and Islam, before anything else, is a religion of peace and justice," Aliya Agliulin said on Al-Jazeera television.

At least 80 employees of Iraq's Industry Ministry were kidnapped by gunmen north of Baghdad as they left their place of work Wednesday. One source put the number of those kidnapped at around 100.

Workers at the Hateen and Nasr factories in the restive town of Taji, north of Baghdad, were ambushed and abducted by at least 50 gunmen who had arrived in five minibuses, a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The employees took their seats on the buses that were waiting for them as usual," said the source.

"Groups of four to five gunmen [then] took control of the buses and drove them to an unknown destination," he said, adding that the occupants of one bus overpowered their hijackers and drove to Baghdad to report what had happened.

Elsewhere, seven people were killed, two in a car bomb attack in Baghdad and five of them in and around the city of Baquba.

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