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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 March, 2005, 16:58 GMT
Saddam to be tried 'by October'
Saddam Hussein
The former Iraqi leader was captured near his home-town
The trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will begin before the nation votes on a new constitution in October, senior officials say.

A special tribunal, set up in 2003, has been trying to amass evidence against Saddam Hussein and colleagues accused of crimes against humanity.

In February, it said was ready to try five of the former leader's associates.

Saddam Hussein has been charged with the deaths of thousands of Iraqi Shias and Kurds during his 1968-2003 rule.

He was captured by US forces near his home town of Tikrit in central Iraq in late 2003.

'Saddam in the box'

Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, a leading figure in the United Iraqi Alliance which won the majority vote in January's elections, says putting the ex-leader and his senior associates on trial will be a priority for the new government.

Iraq's poll winners are in talks to pick a new government, which in turn will be charged with creating a committee to frame a new constitution for Iraq.

Iraqis are scheduled to vote on the new constitution in mid-October, before another round of elections in December.

Iraq's national security adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie said he hoped Saddam Hussein's trial will begin "around September, October, well before the general referendum, so we can go to our people and say this is Saddam in the box and this is your constitution, go ratify it".

Deadlock

No official date has been set for the trial of any captured officials from the former Iraqi administration.

However, a special tribunal set up to judge them said in late February that it had gathered enough evidence to frame charges against five top lieutenants of Saddam Hussein.

The trials have been delayed several times because of an apparent deadlock over the appointment of judges and lawyers, as well as security concerns.

A tribunal judge and his son were shot dead by suspected insurgents in Baghdad last week.





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