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Iraqi tribunal to try Saddam Hussein

Halliburton identifies American bodies

Saddam Hussein

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April has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi leaders have set up a tribunal to try ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and other members of his Baathist regime, a spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council said Tuesday.

Salem Chalabi, the nephew of the head the Iraqi National Congress, was named to head the tribunal of judges and prosecutors, according to council spokesman Entefadh Qanbar.

New political parties in Iraq include the Iraqi National Congress headed by Ahmed Chalabi; the Iraqi National Coalition headed by Adnan Pachachi; and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution headed by Ayatollah Muhammed Baqr Al Hakim.

Seven judges have been assigned to the tribunal so far, and more judges and prosecutors will be chosen, Qanbar said.

He added that the tribunal has a budget of $75 million for 2004-2005.

French attorney Jacques Verges, who has long made a name for himself representing notorious world figures, has said he will lead a team of defense lawyers in any future trial. He said he plans to call top U.S. officials to testify about their support of Saddam during the 1980s.

"It is a trial that must be open," Verges said last month. "We shall have the duty to look at the truth, but all the truth. And in this matter the links between the American government and the Iraq government are so close you cannot judge from one and the other."

Saddam was captured December 13 in a "spider hole" near his hometown of Tikrit and has remained in coalition custody in Iraq.

U.S. officials have described Saddam as being less than cooperative during his interrogations.

"He's turned out a pretty wily guy who seems to be enjoying the give and take with his interlocutors," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said last month.

In early March, a team of U.S. Justice Department officials traveled to Iraq to start organizing evidence that could be used against Saddam once he goes on trial.

No trial date has been set.

The team includes 50 prosecutors, investigators and administrative staff members of various Justice Department entities, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service.

The team is assisting the Iraqis in trying to sort through potential evidence for use in war crimes trials against former regime officials, including the former Iraqi president.

U.S.: Clock ticking in Fallujah, Najaf

Iraqis and coalition officials Tuesday worked to stabilize restive Fallujah, but U.S. authorities in Baghdad and Washington warned that time is running short for a peaceful solution.

"In Fallujah, discussions are seeking an Iraqi-centered solution there," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a news conference in Washington.

"The current state of affairs in Fallujah will not continue indefinitely. Thugs and assassins and former Saddam henchmen will not be allowed to carve out portions of that city and to oppose peace and freedom," he said.

Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor said, "If the peaceful track does not play itself out, and there is not a serious effort by all parties, major hostilities will resume on short notice."

Senor said key demands sought by the coalition are the handing over by insurgents of illegal heavy weapons and the removal of "foreign fighters, criminals, drug users" and others who are using Fallujah as a base of operations to "engage in violence and terrorist acts."

Senor told reporters coalition and Iraqi authorities are working with local officials to implement a number of steps designed to achieve peace and stability.

They include:

  • Giving unfettered access to the general hospital
  • Allowing removal and burial of the dead
  • Making provisions for food and medicine in isolated areas
  • Moving the overnight curfew start time from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Allowing for the passage of official ambulances in the city
  • Returning of 50 families back to the city per day.
  • A March 31 attack by insurgents that killed four American contractors, whose bodies were mutilated and dragged through the streets, prompted the coalition to send the Marines to Fallujah, about 35 miles west of Baghdad.

    U.S. troops remain massed on the outskirts of the holy Shiite city of Najaf, but it remains under the control of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia.

    In Najaf, a coalition source said al-Sadr "controls the Kufa mosque and the Shrine of Imam Ali" and he "reserves the right to send his militia into any place at any time here. We still hear reports of him rounding up people and putting death threats on the heads of anyone who has worked with the coalition."

    In Washington, Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "there's a swap-out of forces going on now" in the Najaf region, saying "the Spanish are leaving and other coalition forces are moving in." Spain has announced it will withdraw its more than 1,300 troops from Iraq.

    "We're going to position ourselves militarily to be able to take the appropriate, decisive military action if that's called for, but at the same time trying to create the atmosphere with military forces that will get the people to talk to each other and find a peaceful solution," Pace said.

    These two hubs of anti-U.S. sentiment remained relatively quiet Tuesday, and there were only scattered reports of fighting between coalition forces and insurgents throughout the country.

    Marines find weapons cache in Fallujah

    But on the western outskirts of Baghdad, a mortar attack on an American-run prison killed at least 22 detainees and wounded 92 people Tuesday, the U.S. Army said.

    Twelve mortars struck the the Baghdad Confinement Facility which holds about 4,400 detainees, according to the U.S.-led Coalition Press Information Center.

    Under Saddam's regime, the facility was known as the Abu Ghraib Prison and was infamous for its torture of prisoners.

    Near Mosul Tuesday, five U.S. troops were hurt in a convoy attack.

    First Marine Division forces in Fallujah discovered a weapons cache Monday while patrolling the outskirts of the city.

    The cache included 30 mm rockets, 82 mm mortar rounds, 57 mm anti-aircraft rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, a machine gun, a mortar tube and three anti-aircraft guns.

    According to a Marine statement, all of the munitions were destroyed.

    American bodies identified

    Also Tuesday, Texas-based Halliburton Co. identified three of four bodies found on April 13 as American contractors who were ambushed in an April 9 raid on a fuel convoy near Baghdad.

    A statement from Halliburton -- parent company of the contractors' employer, Kellogg, Brown & Root -- identified the men as Stephen Hulett, 48, of Manistee, Michigan; Jack Montague, 52, of Pittsburg, Illinois; and Jeffery Parker, 45, of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

    Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt indicated Monday that the fourth person is not an American.

    Thomas Hamill, a KBR worker from Macon, Mississippi, shown on video footage held hostage by insurgents, is unaccounted for, along with three other KBR employees -- none of whom have been publicly identified.

    The four are among seven KBR employees missing since the attack.

    The statement said Halliburton and KBR "remain prayerful for the families of our four other missing employees."

    Halliburton said the company and its subcontractors have lost 33 personnel in Kuwait and Iraq.

    Also missing since the convoy attack are Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio. Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera has aired footage of Maupin with armed insurgents, who said they wanted to trade the soldier for prisoners held by the coalition.

    Probe into TV crew deaths

    U.S. authorities said Tuesday they intend to investigate the previous day's fatal shooting of an Iraqi television reporter and his driver by coalition forces near military checkpoints in the north-central Iraqi town of Samarra. (Full story)

    The shooting occurred when the TV crew failed to respond to warning shots while approaching a coalition base, Kimmitt said.

    Al-Iraqiya reporter Asaad Kazem Mohammad and driver Hussein Saleh Kazem were killed, and cameraman Jassim Kamel was wounded. Al-Iraqiya is a Pentagon-funded TV station, and the three were carrying appropriate press credentials, according to the U.S. military.

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