Saddam 'thinner but fine': Tribunal director

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi judge in Baghdad today to hear charges of crimes committed during his 24-year rule, the Arab language television stations Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya reported.

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi judge in Baghdad today to hear charges of crimes committed during his 24-year rule, the Arab language television stations Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya reported.

The stations quoted “American sources”.

An Iraqi judge was expected to read charges against Saddam and 11 of his top lieutenants. The proceedings were not broadcast live.

Salem Chalabi, the director of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, said Saddam was facing a single judge in today’s session.

He said Saddam and his lieutenants were in good health.

“He looks fine, he’s seen by a doctor on a daily basis and looks fine, he’s thinner and his hair is a bit wavy but otherwise, he’s OK,” Chalabi told AP Radio.

The charges are likely to include war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. A formal indictment with specific charges is expected later, Chalabi said. The trial isn’t expected until 2005.

CNN TV said Saddam was led from an armoured bus escorted by two Iraqi prison guards and ushered through a door guarded by six more Iraqi policemen.

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