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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Prosecution demands Saddam death
Saddam Hussein and co-defendants
The defendants could face death by hanging if found guilty
The prosecution in the trial of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has called for his execution as it delivered its closing arguments.

The prosecution said Saddam Hussein and two of his seven co-defendants should be put to death for war crimes.

The trial has now adjourned and judges will consider their verdict after final defence arguments on 10 July.

The defendants deny being responsible for the deaths of 148 Shia Muslim villagers in the 1980s.

The men are accused of launching a crackdown in the village of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein.

In other developments:

  • An insurgent group linked to al-Qaeda says it is holding two US soldiers seized south of Baghdad on Friday
  • US and Iraqi troops push further into the western city of Ramadi
  • The UK says its troops will hand over security duties to Iraqi forces in the southern province of Muthanna next month.

Leniency

In the trial of Saddam Hussein and seven former aides, all defendants were in court as proceedings resumed on Monday.

Chief prosecutor Jaafar al-Mussawi said: "We demand the maximum punishment for Saddam, [his half-brother] Barzan al-Tikriti and [former vice-president] Taha Yassin Ramadan."

"They were spreading corruption on Earth... and even the trees were not saved from their oppression," Mr Mussawi said.

The law calls for the death penalty and this is what we ask be implemented
Jaafar al-Mussawi,
chief prosecutor

Saddam Hussein, dressed in a black suit, muttered sarcastically from the dock: "Well done."

Mr Mussawi asked for charges against one defendant, Baath party official Mohammed Azawi Ali, to be dropped and for him to be freed.

The prosecutor also asked for three other defendants - Baath officials Abdullah Kadhem Ruaid, Ali Daeem Ali and Mizher Abdullah Ruaid - to be treated leniently.

Mr Mussawi made no specific calls on the fate of Awad Hamad al-Bandar, former chief judge of Saddam Hussein's revolutionary court.

Another prosecution lawyer, whose name has not been released for security purposes, had opened Monday's proceedings by saying defendants had "carried out a systematic, wide-scale attack" in Dujail.

"They carried out broad imprisonments of men, women and children, who were exposed to physical and mental torture, including the use of electrical shocks," he said.

The lawyer argued that the assassination attempt had been "fabricated" for "political aims".

Criticised

The defence has argued the crackdown was necessary in the wake of an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein.

It has also claimed that some of the 148 people the prosecution says were killed are still alive.

The trial has so far lasted eight months and has been criticised by some international legal experts.

Some said the defence had been given a disproportionately short period to present its witnesses.

The trial has also been marred by the killing of two defence lawyers and the resignation of the first chief judge in January.


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