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Iraq Transition

Talabani: Saddam confesses to execution orders

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein has confessed that he gave orders to execute thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s, according to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

In an interview with Iraq's state-funded broadcaster al-Iraqiya, Talabani said he had spoken to one of the Iraqi Special Tribunal judges involved in the investigation who said that "he was able to take important confessions from Saddam Hussein and he has signed these confessions and there is video and audio for these confessions."

Talabani said the judge told him that Saddam confessed that he gave orders for the executions and military operations directed against Kurds in what came to be called the Anfal campaign.

Talabani refuted charges that the current government was exerting political pressure to expedite the trial, saying, "The Iraqi judiciary will sentence Saddam with what it sees suitable. There is no political order."

On Sunday a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said that the first trial of Saddam would begin on October 19.

Along with others, Saddam is charged in connection with a series of 1982 detentions and executions following an assassination attempt against him.

Saddam has been in custody since December 2003, when he was captured by U.S. troops.

The 1982 charges are the first of several Saddam is expected to face.

He appeared last year before an Iraqi tribunal to hear a list of preliminary charges against him, including the 1990 invasion of Kuwait; the 1986-88 Anfal campaign against the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq; the 1988 chemical attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja during that campaign; and the suppression of the 1991 revolts by Iraq's Kurdish and Shia populations.

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