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Spanish police have arrested an Italian lawyer known as the 'devil's advocate' who was on the team that defended hanged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the interior ministry and news reports said Tuesday.
The lawyer was held in Palma, capital of the Spanish Mediterranean island of Majorca, on a European arrest warrant issued by Britain, "on charges of embezzlement, fraud, money-laundering and theft," the ministry said in a statement.
It identified him only by his initials, G.D.S.
But Spanish media named him as Giovanni di Stefano, who helped defend Saddam and some of his cohorts as well as serial killer Charles Manson and British train robber Ronnie Biggs, and has earned the nickname "the devil's advocate" in the press.
He is also a former director of Dundee Football Club of Scotland.
Di Stefano, 55, was arrested on Monday night at a luxury villa in Palma, the daily El Mundo said on its website.
Following his arrest, he was taken to hospital for treatment for a health condition that was not revealed, the paper said, quoting police sources.
The interior ministry said the crimes of which he is accused took place between between 2004 and 2009 when he "received large sums of money after presenting himself as legal counsel without being accredited to practice as such".
It said he is accused of 18 crimes for which he could receive a maximum 75 years in prison.
Saddam was hanged in December 2006 for ordering the killings of 148 Shiite Muslim villagers in the mid-1980s.
© 2011 AFP
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