One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was shot dead on Wednesday after he was abducted from his home by men wearing police uniforms in Baghdad, court and police officials said.
Khamis al-Obeidi, who represented Saddam and his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, was abducted from his house at 7 am on Wednesday, Saddam's top lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi said.
Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said that al-Obeidi had been killed, although he did not provide more details.
Al-Obeidi was shot to death and his body was found on the street near the Shiite slum of Sadr City, police Lt Thaer Mahmoud said.
Unlike al-Dulaimi, who shuttles between Amman, Jordan, and the Iraqi capital, al-Obeidi chose to continue to live in Baghdad despite the tenuous security and the killing of two members of the trial's defence team last year.
Al-Dulaimi blamed the Interior Ministry, which Sunnis have alleged is infiltrated by so-called Shiite death squads.
"We strongly condemn this act and we condemn the killings done by the Interior Ministry forces against Iraqis," he said, adding US-led forces also bore responsibility because the war had allowed Shiite militias to gain influence.
Sunni Arabs were dominant under Saddam's rule but lost power to majority Shiites after his ouster in April 2003.
A dozen masked gunmen abducted defence lawyer Saadoun al-Janabi from his Baghdad office the day after the trial's opening session on October 19.
His body was found the next day with two bullets in his skull. Nearly three weeks later, defence lawyer Adel al-Zubeidi was assassinated in a brazen daylight ambush in Baghdad. A colleague who was wounded fled the country.
The defence has asked the authorities for increased protection and threatened to boycott the trial unless this was provided.
The deposed leader and the other seven are charged with killing more than 140 people in the town of Dujail in 1982.