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Iraq to allow partial amnesty for some fighters

A spokesman for interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Iraq will allow partial amnesty for some insurgents.
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A minibus burns after rocket strikes in Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein appears in court to hear charges.

The new Iraqi regime faces a number of security challenges.
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Should the Iraqi interim government offer an amnesty to insurgents?
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Saddam Hussein

(CNN) -- Iraq's interim government will announce a partial amnesty for low-level insurgents Monday, a spokesman for interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said.

Spokesman George Sada told CNN that none of the "hard-core" militants, including those accused of murder, would be eligible for amnesty. Only those who were "misled" by the leaders of the insurgency would qualify, he said.

The announcement is scheduled to take place Monday at 11 a.m. (3 a.m. ET), Sada said.

It was not clear whether the amnesty would cover Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite Muslim cleric whose Mehdi Army militia has battled U.S. and other coalition troops in the southern Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, and the surrounding area.

Although the fighting has all but ended, al-Sadr remains under indictment by an Iraqi court in the killing of a rival cleric in April 2003. Friday, he denounced the interim government as being no different from the U.S.-led occupation.

Still, Allawi said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that al-Sadr had told the interim government through an intermediary that he wanted to participate in Iraq's new political process.

"He is looking for an amnesty," Allawi said. "He is willing ... to dismantle the army."

Such militias are illegal in Iraq. Allawi said al-Sadr indicated he would disarm his militia, but stressed that "action needs to be seen beyond words."

Lawyer: Saddam can't get fair trial

Ziad Khassawneh, a Jordanian lawyer for Saddam Hussein, said Sunday that the former dictator cannot get a fair trial because the courts and the laws are illegitimate.

He said on CNN's "Late Edition" that the defense team has yet to be allowed to see its client despite "all the requests made to all the entities and the free people of the world."

"Everything is done in secrecy. The occupation, the tribunal, interim government, everything is a violation of the forms of all the laws of international, legitimate laws," Khassawneh said.

Khassawneh argued that Saddam is the legitimate president of Iraq, the interim government was illegally installed by an occupying force and the court that will try him was formed by "illegitimate means."

Allawi told ABC that his government would insist on a fair trial for Saddam, "unlike what he did to his victims in Iraq."

"What has happened here is a great sign of a civilized approach to criminal suspects who have massive records of mass killings, massive graves, and using of weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqi people," he said.

The legal custody of Saddam was transferred from American authority to the Iraqis last week, though he remains in the physical custody of the U.S. military.

The judge at Saddam's first court appearance Thursday ended the hearing by saying the former dictator would be allowed to meet with his attorneys. No time, however, has been set for such a meeting.

Other developments

  • An Islamic militant group that claims to be holding a U.S. Marine hostage denied killing the man Sunday, saying reports that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun had been beheaded were incorrect. "This statement quoting us is baseless, and it's not true at all," the militant group Ansar al-Sunna said in a statement posted on its Web site. Hassoun, an Arabic translator, was last seen June 19.
  • In other comments on the ABC program, Allawi rebuffed suggestions by critics that he is a U.S. puppet, saying he was fighting Saddam "when America was with him, when Britain was with him, when the world was with him." The United States and other Western countries backed Saddam's regime throughout much of the 1980s as Iraq fought the new Islamic republic in Iran. "I stood against him," Allawi said. "I fought bravely against him. ... And this is not only me, but other political forces in Iraq. We earned [the right] to come back to Iraq to serve our people." (Full story)
  • Iraq is an "incomparably better" country since Saddam's removal, but Americans shouldn't expect an "American-style democracy" to emerge immediately, the former U.S. administrator in Iraq said Sunday. "We shouldn't kid ourselves. It'll be sloppy and messy at the beginning," L. Paul Bremer said on "Fox News Sunday." "People forget it took us 12 years to write our own Constitution. It wasn't very pretty around here between 1776 and 1787."
  • A formal military ceremony Sunday at Baghdad International Airport marked the end of duty in Iraq for about 20,000 U.S. soldiers whose service was extended for three months to fight a militia uprising in the south. The soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, based in Germany, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, "cased their colors," or folded their military flags ahead of their departure from Iraq. (Full story)
  • Five Iraqis were wounded Sunday when a man lobbed a hand grenade at them as he drove past the Ministry of Justice building in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. One of the wounded was an Iraqi police officer, and the others were civilians.
  • A U.S. Marine died Saturday from wounds suffered Friday while fighting in Anbar province west of Baghdad, the coalition said. The Marine's death brought the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 864, with 642 killed in hostile action and 222 in nonhostile activity, according to the U.S. military.
  • CNN's Caroline Faraj, Guillaume Debre, Brent Sadler and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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