Saddam faces genocide charges

“The investigation has been completed for the Anfal campaign and the seven accused have been referred to the court for genocide,” Chief investigating judge Raed al-Juhi said.

The announcement by the Iraqi High Tribunal came only a day before the trial of Saddam and seven others for the massacre of Shiite villagers from Dujail was set to resume.

Judge Al-Juhi said that the exact date of the new trial would be determined by the court.

The other defendants charged with genocide include Ali Hassan al-Majid, notorious for ordering the gassing of Halabja in 1988 which killed 5,000 people.

Others on the dock will include former minister of defense Sultan Hashem Ahmed and high ranking Baathists Saber Abdel Aziz, Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, Taher Mohammed al-Ani and Farhan al-Juburi.

A US official close to the court said Saddam and the other accused have been informed about the latest charges.

He said “the evidence that the court is going to look at involves voluminous amounts of documents, testimonies from a large number of victims and eyewitnesses and forensic evidence from mass graves that have been excavated.”

President Jalal Talabani has given assurances that Saddam will be tried for all his crimes before any of the verdicts are implemented. Most of the cases pending against Saddam carry the death penalty.

Trial resumes

Following a three-week break, the turbulent Dujail trial resumes on Wednesday with further testimony from Saddam as well as new evidence from the prosecution.

Saddam and seven other co-defendants are on trial for allegedly executing more than 140 inhabitants of the Shiite village of Dujail following an assassination attempt there against Iraq’s deposed president in 1982.

They are now expected to face cross examination over the Dujail massacre following the testimonies of witnesses given to the trial and the prosecution is also expected to present new documents it claims link the defendants to the case.

They involve communications and messages exchanged between high officials, according to the prosecutors.

Leadership delay

Iraqi leaders have again shelved talks on forming a government despite a warning from the United States and Britain against any further delay.

Talks on forming a national unity government were shelved despite stern warnings from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart Jack Straw who left Iraq after an unprecedented two-day visit.

The formation of the first permanent post-Saddam government has been delayed due to bitter wrangling over key ministerial posts and the premiership, with non-Shi’ite factions opposing the candidacy of incumbent prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

Splits have appeared in the dominant conservative Shiite grouping, the United Iraqi Alliance, over the key sticking point of whether Jaafari should lead the new government. It was also not clear when the talks will commence again.

Insurgent attacks

Meanwhile, the violence on the ground escalated with dozens of US and Iraqi casualties.

At least 23 people died in the latest violence around the country, including a car bomb that struck eastern Baghdad.

Ten people were killed and around 25 wounded in the explosion of a car bomb parked in the al-Habibiyah neighbourhood while police found 18 bodies around Baghdad, many of them tortured and riddled with bullets.

Dozens of bodies have been dumped in the Iraqi capital in the wake of the outbreak of sectarian strife since the February 22 bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in Samarra.

The US military has also experienced one of its deadliest periods over the past few days, with at least 15 servicemen reported to have lost their lives in rebel violence and a flash flood.


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