Saddam faces charges over village massacre

THE first criminal case has been filed against Saddam Hussein.

The case stems from the 1982 massacre of dozens of Shi’ite villagers in retaliation for a failed assassination attempt.

The date for the trial of Saddam and three others will be determined in a few days.

If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

Raid Juhi, chief judge of the Iraq Special Tribunal, said the preliminary investigation into the July 8, 1982 massacre in Dujail, 50 miles north of Baghdad, has been completed, and the case was referred to the courts for trial.

The court now has 45 days to announce a start date for the trial.

Saddam’s co-defendants in the case are Barazan Ibrahim, intelligence chief at the time and Saddam’s half brother; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, at the time a Ba’ath party official in Dujail.

Iraqi officials previously have announced the imminent start of Saddam’s trial before, only to have the proceedings delayed. The Americans privately have urged caution about rushing into a trial, saying Iraq must develop its judicial system.

US officials say there also are concerns that a trial could interfere with the process of writing a constitution.

The Iraqi government must finish a draft by mid-August so it can hold a referendum ahead of December elections for a government.

Saddam, 68, has been jailed under American control at a US military detention complex near the Baghdad airport since his December 2003 capture near Tikrit.

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