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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Film shows Saddam legal grilling
Saddam Hussein
The ex-leader looked slightly bemused as he answered questions
New film has been released showing the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein being questioned by magistrates, the first footage of him in almost a year.

The film shows the ousted leader behind a desk wearing a dark suit and open-neck shirt.

He was answering questions over the killing of dozens of men in a Shia village north of Baghdad in 1982 after a failed assassination attempt.

Prosecutors hope to begin a trial soon, but have not yet finalised charges.

Saddam Hussein's lawyers have recently complained that he has been allowed only two meetings with them since being arrested in Iraq in December 2003.

The new footage, released by Iraq's Special Tribunal, the body charged with staging the trial, is believed to be the first time he has been seen in front of magistrates since appearing in court in July last year.

The former leader's well-groomed appearance is in marked contrast to recent pictures, published by a British tabloid newspaper, showing the former president of Iraq dressed only in his underpants.

Killings probed

In the film, which was released without sound, Saddam Hussein can be seen answering questions posed by a judge, understood to be Raid Juhi.

The tribunal said the defendant's lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi, was present during the questioning.

Dujail killings, 1982
Massacre of Barzani tribe, 1983
Killing of religious leaders, 1974
'Ethnic cleansing' of Kurds, 1988
Gassing Kurds in Halabja, 1988
Invasion of Kuwait, 1990
Crushing Shia and Kurdish uprisings, 1991
Killing political activists

The former Iraqi leader, who is accused of ordering a string of massacres and murders during his rule, looks pensive as he answers questions.

He can be seen stroking his neatly-trimmed, grey-flecked beard.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Baghdad says the video portrays Saddam Hussein in a respectful way, but that he does not appear to be as in control of the situation as he did when he appeared in court last year.

Iraq's Special Tribunal said that he was questioned over the killings of dozens of men in the village of Dujail, 40 miles (60km) north of Baghdad, the Reuters news agency reported.

Troops and helicopters attacked the Shia village in 1982 after an assassination attempt failed.

The tribunal is said to be keen to put Saddam Hussein on trial within the next few months, ahead of elections in Iraq.

However, no complete list of charges has yet been compiled, and some observers think the trial could be delayed until next year.

See the footage of Saddam Hussein being questioned

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