A French lawyer who made his reputation defending some of the world's most notorious figures says he will take on Saddam Hussein as his latest client.
In his long career, Jacques Verges defended Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal.
Mr Verges says the request came in a letter from Saddam Hussein's nephew, Ali Barzan al-Takriti.
He says he will also defend former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
He will be supported by a dozen other French lawyers to mount a defence case.
Mr Tikriti sent the following message to Mr Verges: "In my capacity as nephew of President Saddam Hussein, I commission you officially via this letter to assure the defence of my uncle".
It is not yet clear what charges Saddam Hussein will answer or what exact form his trial will take, but it is looking increasingly likely that he will be tried in Iraq, says BBC News Online's Kathryn Westcott.
The US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad is setting up a war crimes tribunal to try him on charges which may include genocide and crimes against humanity. Saddam Hussein has been held at a secret Iraqi location since his capture in December and little has been heard from him since.
He was visited in February by the Red Cross, which is responsible for overseeing the treatment of prisoners of war worldwide.
It comes as no surprise to those who have followed Mr Verges' 50-year career as a defence lawyer that he should take on so controversial and difficult a case, as he has made a lifetime profession of fighting unpopular battles, Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.
Mr Verges, now 79, was born in Thailand to a French father and a Vietnamese mother, and grew up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, where he is said to have acquired his fiercely anti-colonialist views, our correspondent says.
In World War II, he joined General Charles de Gaulle's Free French forces, but later he became a Communist.
During the Algerian war of independence he defended Algerians accused of terrorism against France, and married one of his clients who was jailed for planting bombs in cafes in Algiers.
Later, in the 1970s, he became the champion of extremists from both left and right, defending Palestinian violence but also neo-Nazis and he leapt at the chance to expose what he saw as establishment hypocrisy at the trial of Klaus Barbie.
In response to a Hague Tribunal ruling in November 2001 ordering Slobodan Milosevic to accept Ramsey Clark and another attorney as his legal advisers, Slobodan Milosevic publicly stated 20 months ago that regarding his Tribunal case, he has never gotten or been interested in getting any legal advice from anyone.
Nevertheless attorneys such as Ramsey Clark and Jacques Verges, who is identified with Nazism, pretend to be Milosevic's legal advisors and/or attorneys. Others claim to be part of a Legal Committee that has not existed since February 2002.