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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
Saddam 'confesses' says Iraq head
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
Saddam Hussein has confessed to crimes during his regime - including executions - and deserves to die, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said.

Mr Talabani, who has a record of opposing the death penalty, told Iraqi state TV a judge "was able to extract confessions" from the ousted leader.

"Saddam deserves a death sentence 20 times a day because he tried to assassinate me 20 times," he said.

Saddam Hussein's trial will start on 19 October, the Iraqi government has said.

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.

Saddam Hussein could face capital punishment if found guilty in the case.

'100 reasons'

Mr Talabani told Iraqiya TV that some of the alleged confessions referred to crimes "such as executions" during Saddam Hussein's rule.

The president said the confessions involved cases currently under investigation without giving any further details.

"There are 100 reasons to sentence Saddam to death," said Mr Talabani, a former Kurdish rebel leader.

However, the president - who has voiced public opposition to the death penalty - confirmed he would not sign any execution warrant himself.

Saddam Hussein's lawyers have greeted Mr Talabani's comments with scepticism and have warned the allegations risk prejudicing the trial.

The legal team is trying to delay next month's proceedings arguing it has not been given sufficient time to prepare.

Mr Talabani's intervention will also increase the widely-held suspicion among Iraqi's Sunni community that the legal process is subject to political interference, the BBC's Jon Brain in Baghdad says.

Saddam Hussein 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.


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