Formal Criminal Charges Filed Against Saddam Hussein

Iraqi officials announce they have filed the first formal criminal charges against Saddam Hussein and members of his former regime. Saddam and others are accused of responsibility for the 1982 massacre of Shiite residents of Dujail, a town where there had been an attempt on Saddam's life.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

In Baghdad today, Iraqi officials announced that they have filed the first formal criminal charges against Saddam Hussein and members of his former regime. Saddam and the others are accused of responsibility for the 1982 massacre of Shiite residents of a town where there had been an attempt on Saddam's life. From Baghdad, NPR's Tom Bullock reports.

TOM BULLOCK reporting:

At a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone, not far from the courtroom specially built for the upcoming trials, the chief investigating judge for Iraq's special tribunal made the announcement many Iraqis and Western leaders have been waiting for. They had filed the first charges against Saddam Hussein.

Unidentified Judge: (Foreign language spoken)

BULLOCK: The Iraqi judge read off a series of names, then the charges. Those for Saddam center around an alleged 1982 massacre in Dujail, a small village north of Baghdad and a site of a failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein himself as his convoy traveled through the village. Soon after, investigators say around 140 men, all Shiites, were rounded up by Iraqi security forces and gunned down in retaliation. Others being charged in the incident include one of Saddam Hussein's half-brothers, who was head of Iraqi intelligence at the time, a former deputy prime minister, and a former Iraqi judge. But none will see a courtroom until late next month. Under Iraqi law, there must be at least 45 days from when charges are filed and the beginning of a trial.

For some Iraqis, today's announcement is a bit of good news amid stepped-up insurgent attacks focused largely in and around Baghdad. The deadliest came last night in a town south of the capital in a now infamous triangle of death, where a suicide bombing ignited a nearby tanker truck, killing more than 50 Iraqi civilians instantly and severely wounding dozens more. Today the Associated Press reports that at least 70 have died, making it the deadliest bombing since the new government took office in April. And some Iraqi doctors warn that death toll could still rise.

And there are reports from the US military that insurgents used the bodies of two Iraqis, who were apparently tortured then executed, as bait in a car bomb attack here in the capital. The report says the bodies were left in the middle of the road. Then as Iraqi police came to investigate, a car bomb drove into the crowd, killing one policeman, one civilian and wounding at least five others. These were just two of a flurry of suicide attacks this weekend. In all, more than 20 bombs have been reported across Iraq. Tom Bullock, NPR News, Baghdad.

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