A former Clifford Chance lawyer who set up the Iraq Special Tribunal to try Saddam Hussein for war crimes has been accused of involvement in the murder of an Iraqi official.

Salem Chalabi, a US-qualified finance and capital markets lawyer, has been accused by Zuhair al-Maliky, Iraq’s chief investigating judge, of involvement in the murder in May of Haitham Fadhil, an official in the finance ministry. According to reports, Chalabi is vigorously denying the claims.

After spending three years at Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Chalabi moved to Clifford Chance’s New York office in May 1997. He came over to the firm’s London office in October 1999.

Because of the developing situation in Iraq, Chalabi took unpaid leave from Clifford Chance in April 2003 before resigning from the firm in October that year.

Chalabi is part of a well-known family in Iraq who have been opponents of Saddam Hussein’s regime for years. A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of his uncle, Ahmad Chalabi, on counterfeiting charges.

It is understood that Ahmad Chalabi has since returned to Iraq, but Salem Chalabi is believed to be staying in London over fears for his safety.

Chalabi set up the Iraq Special Tribunal in 2003 while his uncle, who at one time was tipped to lead the country’s post-war government, leads the Iraqi National Congress. It is believed he will stand
in the upcoming January elections.

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