Iraqi defense lawyers representing Saddam Hussein before a special tribunal say they have suspended all contact with the court until their safety is guaranteed.

In a statement, the lawyers cited the kidnapping and murder last week of their colleague Saadoun al-Janabi who represented one of Saddam's co-defendants.

They said the deteriorating security situation also makes it impossible to have a fair and open trial.

They have demanded U.N. protection, as well as the hiring of 15 bodyguards for each lawyer, and an independent international investigation into their colleague's murder.

Saddam Hussein and seven associates entered "not guilty" pleas at the opening of their trial last Wednesday for the 1982 murders of 143 Shi'ite men in the town of Dujail.  The trial was adjourned until November 28.

Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters.