Ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his co-defendants will face charges of premeditated murder, torture and forced expulsion and disappearances when they goes on trial next week for a 1982 massacre of Shiites, a court official said Thursday. 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, the top investigating judge Raid Juhi told reporters in Baghdad.
Saddam and seven other defendants face their first trial starting Oct. 19 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.
Saddam's lawyers have said they received the documents on Sept. 25 and appealed for the start of trial to be delayed to give them more time to review them, the AP reports.
Iraqi investigators have been preparing cases for separate trials on other atrocities, including a 1988 chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed an estimated 5,000 people and the execution of 8,000 members of the Barzani tribe, a powerful Kurdish clan to which the current Kurdistan Democratic Party leader, Massoud Barzani, belongs.
It is not known when the next trial would start. It has taken three months between the time the Dujail case was presented to the court and the trial's start.
Saddam, 68, has been jailed under American control at a U.S. military detention complex since his December 2003 capture near his hometown, Tikrit. A.M.
Selim Bensaad, the great-grandson of Joseph Stalin, wrote an open letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In the letter, Bensaad pointed out the need to dissolve the United Nations