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Caspar Weinberger's lawyers are seeking dismissal of an Oct. 30 Iran-Contra indictment against the former defense secretary. Prosecutors, forced to abandon an obstruction charge in June, can't now replace it with a false-statement allegation, Weinberger's attorneys say.

The one-count indictment - which raised new questions about President Bush's role in the Iran-Contra affair - accuses Weinberger of making false statements to congressional investigators in June 1987 about whether he took notes of key meetings on the arms-for-hostages deals with Iran.The false-statement count replaced an obstruction of Congress charge in a five-count indictment brought against Weinberger on June 16. Prosecutors had to abandon the obstruction charge because of a court ruling in another Iran-Contra case, that of ex-national security adviser John Poin-dexter.

The false-statement charge is "a totally different statutory offense" from obstruction and cannot stand, Weinberger's lawyers said in papers filed Friday night in U.S. District Court.

Federal law allows prosecutors in certain cases to replace a defective indictment with a new one, even though the five-year statute of limitations has passed.

But "we have found no reported federal decisions" that permit "filing a new indictment for a time-barred offense, separate and distinct from the one charge in the original indictment," Weinberger's lawyers said.

In the Weinberger case, the statute of limitations was June 17, five years after Weinberger allegedly lied to Congress.

Weinberger faces a Jan. 5 trial on three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury.