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Abducted Defense Lawyer in Saddam Trial Found Dead

In Iraq, a defense lawyer in the trial of deposed President Saddam Hussein has been found shot to death, after being kidnapped from his office in Baghdad. The latest killing comes as the head of the Arab League visits Iraq seeking to promote national reconciliation.

Iraqi police Friday said Saadoun al-Janabi was found shot to death in the eastern part of Baghdad.

The lawyer had been kidnapped Thursday by unidentified gunmen, one day after he appeared at the trial of former President Saddam Hussein and seven subordinates. He was defending a senior judge, Awad al-Bander in the Saddam regime who, along with Saddam, is accused of the murder of 140 villagers outside Baghdad in 1982.

Iraqi officials condemned the lawyer's murder, saying it will not serve the interests of justice or the Iraqi political process. Other defense lawyers said they are receiving daily death threats and a fair trial cannot be held in a climate of such fear.

The incident came as an Irish journalist Rory Carrol was released unharmed. He was kidnapped after viewing the trial with a local family.

Human rights groups say that justice in the Saddam trial may be compromised by holding the proceedings in Iraq, where bombings and vendettas have killed thousands of people since the war that toppled the Saddam regime.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa Friday met with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad in an effort to organize a conference on national reconciliation.

Mr. Moussa told reporters afterwards that the political forces in Iraq are capable and knowledgeable enough to express their views and resolve the country's problems.

However, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari indicated that his government would not negotiate with people believed to be behind the violence.

The prime minister said his government considers what he called terrorists and Baathists of the Saddam regime to be criminals and will not include them in any government of reconciliation.

Iraqi's went to the polls one week ago Saturday, to vote on a new constitution which some hope will lead to national elections and lessen the violence. Official results were expected Friday, but election officials said these would be delayed for several days while they investigate reported irregularities in several provinces.