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The lone American on Saddam Hussein’s legal team said Thursday he has asked the Supreme Court to declare the detention of the ousted Iraqi president unconstitutional. The long-shot legal maneuver comes as Saddam’s attorneys await the chance to meet with their client and find out what charges he will face in a war crimes trial by Iraq’s new government. He could face the death penalty. “Even the basic rights of due process, the basic rights of fair trial are being stomped on,” said Washington lawyer Curtis Doebbler, who volunteered his services on the 20-member team with lawyers from Belgium, Britain, France, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, and Tunisia. Doebbler said U.S. authorities have refused to let him or the other attorneys see Saddam, who was arrested in December. Officials have said Saddam will be held in a U.S.-controlled jail guarded by Americans until the Iraqis are ready to take physical custody of him. Iraq’s new authorities took legal control of Saddam and 11 key deputies last week. The filing at the Supreme Court, dated Tuesday and titled “Saddam Hussein v. George W. Bush,” asks the Court for permission to file an indigent appeal on his behalf. The Court will have to grant special permission, however, because the documents lack Saddam’s signature, something required in court filings. Doebbler said Saddam is “being held incommunicado,” but his wife agreed to the filing. The Supreme Court is on a three-month summer break and likely will not act on the request until the justices return to work in late September. In paperwork at the high court, Doebbler said Saddam has sent messages through the Red Cross that “he is in urgent need of legal protection.” Doebbler contended his detention violates multiple international laws and his constitutional Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process.” He also said the war crimes tribunal planned in Iraq was neither independent nor impartial. The Supreme Court will review those arguments only if it grants permission for the filing. Doebbler, a 43-year-old international human rights lawyer, filed a brief in the Supreme Court earlier this year encouraging it to rule in favor of legal rights of foreign terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Last week, justices decided the nearly 600 men from 42 countries held at the U.S. prison in Cuba may use American courts to challenge their detentions. In a dissent to that opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia warned that federal courts will now have to deal with lawsuits from “around the world, challenging actions and events far away, and forcing the courts to oversee one aspect of the executive’s conduct of a foreign war.” Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said it is not surprising Saddam’s lawyers tried the appeal after the Guantanamo ruling. “The question is why would they want to consider this? I don’t think they would,” he said. At a news conference in Washington, Doebbler said he has received threats because of his work for Saddam, who is accused of multiple murders of religious figures and members of political parties, gassing Kurds in Halabja, killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983, and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. “Even the people we dislike the most have a right to a fair trial,” said Doebbler, who has been critical of the war in Iraq. According to his biography, Doebbler’s clients have included about 3,500 Ethiopian refugees in Sudan, 2 million displaced persons in Khartoum State, political activists in Sudan and others around the world. He has been licensed to practice law in Washington since last year, but he said he has 10 years’ experience in international human rights, representing people brought before international tribunals and advising governments. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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