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With Saddam Hussein on the run or dead, Iraqi diplomats around the world are beginning to admit that their country’s government, as it existed, is gone. But before one such envoy disappears, lawyers who believe Iraq had a role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing want him questioned.
Attorneys with public interest law firm Judicial Watch, which filed suit against Iraq in March 2002, asked a federal judge on Thursday to compel Iraqi United Nations ambassador Mohammed al-Douri to testify in the case, the New York Daily News reported. The judge didn’t rule on the request immediately but he scheduled a hearing for next week.
Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel for Judicial Watch, criticized the White House for arguing in favor of allowing al-Douri to leave the country in an emergency telephonic hearing before U.S. District Court Judge John S. Martin, Jr.
“Despite Mr. al-Douri’s obvious value as a material witness in our case, one would think Bush administration law enforcement and intelligence officials would have a number of questions for Mr. al-Douri concerning the regime of Saddam Hussein, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” Klayman said yesterday in a statement.
“I am very troubled by the Bush Justice Department’s position in allowing Mr. al-Douri to flee the country. I don’t think this is what the brave young men and women in our armed forces are fighting for in Iraq,” Klayman added.
The administration asked the court for the delay so that it could consider the issue of immunity and develop its legal position, said Judicial Watch.
Al-Douri, the legal group said, was subpoenaed to give testimony in V.Z. Lawton v. The Republic of Iraq, a $1.5 billion lawsuit brought on behalf of 14 survivors and victims of the OKC bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building April 19, 1995. Judicial Watch said it tried to have the Iraqi diplomat charged with contempt of court for refusing a subpoena to testify in court.
Arab sources told the New York Daily News they expected al-Douri to fly to Iraq via Paris, then Damascus, Syria.
Al-Douri said he planned to continue to work at the U.N. for the time being.
“When I feel that everything is ready, I will go. It’s not easy to prepare yourself to leave,” he told the Associated Press.
Judicial Watch’s suit claims Iraqi officials provided money and training to convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh, now deceased, and conspirator Terry Nichols, who is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in preparing the bomb.
On Friday, al-Douri finally admitted that Saddam’s rule in Baghdad had ended. “The game is over,” said the Iraqi attach?.
The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people.