Iraq brings first charges against Saddam Hussein
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- -- The Iraqi Special Tribunal has brought its first charges against Saddam Hussein for alleged crimes during his reign, the tribunal announced Sunday.
The charges were announced by Judge Raed Juhi, chief investigative judge of the tribunal. They are connected with a 1982 series of detentions and executions after an assassination attempt on Saddam in Dujayl.
Charges against five other men were announced in February. The men will not be tried individually.
"With this announcement, the [tribunal] has raised this historic trial to a new level where the accused stands before justice which will rely on evidence," Juhi said
No trial date was announced, but under Iraqi law Saddam could stand trial as early as September, because of a minimum 45-day period following referral for trial.
On July 8, 1982, a convoy carrying Saddam traveled through the town of Dujayl, a Shiite village north of Baghdad, and was attacked by a small band of residents.
A series of detentions and executions in the town followed the incident. According to the tribunal, 15 people were summarily executed and some 1,500 others spent years in prison with no charges and no trial date. Ultimately, another 143 were put on "show trials" and executed, according to the tribunal.
Speaking from Rome, Italy, an attorney for Saddam questioned whether a trial would ever be held at all.
"As of today, we still do not have a single document purporting to be anything where we can be ready for trial, and after their own rules ... we will require ... time to be able to prepare a defense," said Giovanni di Stefano. "Anything other than that would make it a ... farce."
Di Stefano also questioned the charges themselves, saying they need to be confirmed by a second judge, according to tribunal rules.
He said Saddam was questioned about the incident named in the charges six weeks ago, when "it was confirmed that he was not a suspect, even on the special tribunal's own Web site."
He said that lawfully, Saddam should not be tried for anything because he is immune to all charges under the Iraqi constitution as it was written under his rule.
Di Stefano said he has not seen Saddam in person since 1998.
Saddam has been in custody since December 2003, when he was captured by U.S. troops.
The tribunal is facing pressure from Iraq's new government, as well as residents, who are eager for the former president to face justice.
"These accused have been referred to courts in this case, but they are also being investigated in other cases," Juhi said. "We look forward to concluding this investigation in other cases."
Mass graves are also being investigated under the tribunal's supervision, he said. "We are carrying out lab tests, and we are investigating all the remains of the bodies in these mass graves. We are continuing with these investigations, aiming to reach justice, to bring justice for those victims."
CNN's John King contributed to this report.
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