Saddam Hussein formally charged with the killing of Shia Muslims

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Special Tribunal set up to try Saddam Hussein has made its first formal charge against him.

Saddam and three others have been charged with the killings in Dujail, the town in which the ex-president survived an assassination attempt in 1982. The charge is minor compared to other crimes Saddam is accused of committing; however he would still face the death penalty if he were to be convicted. The Tribunal is said to have picked this charge as it is one in which the investigation has progressed the most.

Many Iraqis would prefer a quick trial of the ex-president, and so the Special Tribunal has picked a charge they are confident they can convict on quickly. The date for the trial is set to be announced in the next few days. Iraqi law states that a trial can only begin 45 days after the charges have been made, and therefore the proceedings could start as early as September.

Other than Saddam Hussein, his brother-in-law Barzan Ibrahim Al-Hassan, former vice-president Taha Yasin Ramadan and former top judge Awad Badar Al-Bender are also being charged in the Dujail case.

The Iraqi Government has said it plans to bring only 12 charges against the former leader, each of them carrying the death penalty, out of a possible 500 of which he is accused. The trial is expected to start as early as September.