Saddam accused of premeditated murder and torture

Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will face charges of premeditated murder, torture and forced expulsion and disappearances when he goes on trial on Wednesday for a 1982 massacre of Shiites.

Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will face charges of premeditated murder, torture and forced expulsion and disappearances when he goes on trial on Wednesday for a 1982 massacre of Shiites.

A second case against Saddam and other defendants for another of the atrocities allegedly carried out by his regime could be presented to the Iraqi Special Tribunal within days, investigating judge Raid Juhi said in Baghdad.

Saddam and seven other defendants face their first trial starting on Wednesday for the massacre of 143 Shiites in the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

Prosecutors have not announced the exact charges, which are expected to be read out in the first sessions. Saddam could face the death penalty if convicted.

Juhi said the charges would focus on the areas of “crimes of premeditated murder, forced expulsion of residents, torture and forced disappearances of individuals.”

Juhi underlined that there would be no postponement of the trial’s start. “The date for the trial is as it is. There is no change. The 19th will be the day for the first session,”

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

The case of the Dujail massacre is being tried first because it was the easiest case to prepare, court officials have said. There will be no jury. The judges’ panel will question witnesses and decide the guilt or innocence of Saddam and seven co-defendants.

The massacres were a crackdown in retaliation for a July 8, 1982 assassination attempt staged by villagers at the height of Saddam’s power. Gunmen opened fire on Saddam’s motorcade as he passed through town, but he was unhurt. In swift retaliation, Iraqi army helicopters fired on villagers, and troops rounded up and imprisoned residents. Residents say some relatives not among the 143 known dead are still missing.

The seven other defendants in the Dujail trial include Saddam’s then-intelligence chief, Barazan Ibrahim; his vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan; Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the head of the Revolutionary court; and four senior Baath Party officials in the Dujail region, Abdullah Kazim Ruwayyid, Ali Dayim Ali, Mohammed Azawi Ali and Mizhar Abdullah Ruwayyid.

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