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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 12:06 GMT
Q&A: Saddam's capture
BBC News Online looks at some of the issues arising from the capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Q: What is currently happening to him?

Saddam Hussein is being interrogated at an undisclosed location. It is unclear whether he remains in Iraq or has been taken outside the country.

Saddam Hussein [centre] with his sons Uday [left] and Qusay
Many key members of the Baathist regime are now in custody or dead
Officials have indicated that he will be questioned on his knowledge of the ongoing insurgency against the US-led occupation and about his alleged weapons of mass destruction - the basis for going to war.

According to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the former Iraqi leader has been "compliant" although not "co-operative" in terms of revealing the kind of information the US is looking for.

Q: What are his rights?

Mr Rumsfeld said Saddam Hussein's treatment would be "governed by the Geneva convention" on the rules of war, but stopped short of declaring that he had formal prisoner-of-war status.

The Geneva Conventions adopted in 1949 require, among other stipulations, that countries protect prisoners-of-war in their custody from "public curiosity", an issue raised by Washington earlier this year when Iraq aired videotapes of captured American soldiers.

The US did not appear to consider this stipulation - which is often open to interpretation - relevant when it broadcast images of a meek and dishevelled Saddam Hussein shortly after his capture.

Washington may argue that it had to prove to the world - and particularly Iraqis - that the former leader had indeed been caught.

What is likely to happen to him next?

Saddam Hussein will in all probability stand trial for war crimes, and this will most likely occur in Iraq - despite some calls for an international tribunal.

The US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council recently announced that a court would be established to try former members of the Baathist regime, presided over by Iraqi judges, and Saddam Hussein could stand trial here.

There have been international reservations about justice in a court such as the Iraqi tribunal in which people who may have been victims pass judgement on their former oppressors.

Concerns have also been raised about the possible use of the death penalty by the court, although no decision has yet been taken on the matter.

Saddam Hussein could be tried on a number of charges relating to acts committed between 1968 and 2003. These include crimes against his own people and those committed during the wars against Iran and Kuwait.

Is the insurgency likely to subside as a result of his capture?

Saddam Hussein may be in custody and his two sons dead, but it remains unclear to what extent the insurgency was aimed at re-instating the Baathist regime, or whether the principal objective has simply been to undermine the US occupation of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein after his capture
The former Iraqi leader is likely to stand trial at home
The former Iraqi leader is being interrogated on his part in orchestrating the attacks on coalition and Iraqi targets, but some analysts have already stressed that he is unlikely to have played a major role, given the circumstances in which he was found.

There have been two attacks on police stations since US forces announced that Saddam Hussein had been captured, leaving at least eight people dead.

Nonetheless, the arrest is seen as a major morale boost to the coalition forces and as such is a blow for the opposition elements engaged in resistance, whatever their ultimate objective.

The BBC's Daniela Relph
"Saddam Hussein is now being interrogated"

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