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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 September 2005, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Date of Saddam's trial confirmed
Chief Investigative Judge Raid Juhi questions Saddam Hussein in a photo released by the tribunal and taken on 23 August 2005
If found guilty, Saddam Hussein could face the death penalty
The Iraqi government has confirmed that the trial of Saddam Hussein will begin on 19 October.

The move came after the former Iraqi leader appointed a new legal team.

There had been widespread speculation that the trial would begin as soon as possible after the national referendum on Iraq's constitution on 15 October.

Several of the ex-president's closest aides will also face trial with him, on charges relating to the massacre of 143 Shias in a town north of Baghdad.

The killings in Dujail in 1982 followed an attempt on Saddam Hussein's life.

Death penalty

A government spokesman, Laith Kubba, said the former leader's co-defendants would include Barazan Ibrahim, his half brother who was his intelligence chief at the time; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, a Baath party official in Dujail.

Saddam Hussein faces execution if found guilty. Iraq's Shia-led government has reintroduced the death penalty after it was suspended following the US-led invasion in 2003.

The former leader and some of his former aides will also face separate trials on other charges.

But some government officials have suggested that if he is convicted for the Dujail killings, subsequent trials for other crimes might be shelved to open the way for sentence to be carried out quickly.

'Capable team'

The reorganisation of Saddam Hussein's defence team follows last month's move by his family to revoke the right of attorney for Western and Arab lawyers claiming to represent the former Iraqi leader.

Under measures adopted by his eldest daughter Raghad, the former president will be assigned a new legal committee of international lawyers headed by Iraqi lawyer Khalil Dulaimi.

"We have formed a legal defence team that includes prominent American, European, Asian and Arab lawyers who were chosen on the basis of competence and merit to put up a strong defence," said Abdul Haq al-Ani, legal adviser to Saddam's eldest daughter Raghad, who is authorised to act on behalf of the family.

"This capable team will be entrusted with preparing the defence case when the trial begins and disputing its legality and procedures that deny the president justice."


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