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Iraq Transition

Calls build for Saddam's trial

Six civilians wounded in protests by Shiite cleric al-Sadr
Iraqis look Friday at a vehicle damaged when a car bomb exploded outside a Baghdad mosque.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Calls for Saddam Hussein's war crimes trial to begin coincided with the release of pictures showing him undressed and violent protests by supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Saddam's attorney questioned whether U.S. and Iraqi authorities are violating the deposed Iraqi president's legal rights by keeping him jailed without issuing an indictment.

"Why not charge him with murder, rape, genocide, war crimes? Let's have something," Giovanni di Stefano told CNN. (Full story)

Top Iranian and Iraqi diplomats are also calling for the former dictator to face justice. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who visited Iraq in a historic trip this week, issued a joint statement calling the trial of Saddam and other former officials "imperative."

As for the embarrassing photos of Saddam, di Stefano said they would not have any negative impact on the insurgency. (More)

Military authorities have observed a relative lull in the wave of car bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of people across Iraq in recent weeks.

Six civilians were wounded Friday during demonstrations in the Dhi Qar provincial seat of Nasiriya, an al-Sadr spokesman said.

Aws al-Khafaji told CNN the protests were aimed at the province's governor and officials there.

The discord appeared to come from two levels -- dissatisfaction over what is seen as the province's reluctance to include people from al-Sadr's militia -- the Mehdi Army -- in its police force, and a call from al-Sadr himself to publicly oppose the United States and Israel.

Al-Khafaji believes the militia accounts for 90 percent of the police commando volunteers.

Al-Sadr is the Shiite cleric whose supporters battled U.S. troops for months last year in Najaf and Baghdad. Al-Sadr and the group later started participating in the country's political process.

The cleric issued a statement Thursday that said "all believers inside Iraq especially those rejecters of occupation should react to the occupiers by placing, or drawing, the American and Israeli flag on the ground and in front of the mosques, Hussaniyas [Shiite mosques] and all worshipping houses."

Al-Sadr has also condemned Iraqi sectarian violence.

"All those who target civilians and innocent people are against Islam and against humanity. This act is rejected by all religions. We reject these acts whether inside or outside Iraq. All terrorist acts whether they are committed by the occupiers or the terrorists are against Islam."

U.S. casualty

In northern Iraq Friday U.S. and Iraqi troops staged several operations in Mosul and Tal Afar, killing three suspected insurgents, arresting five others, and seizing weapons, the U.S. military said.

One U.S. 1st Corps Support Command soldier was killed north of Baghdad early Friday when a driver swerved to avoid a roadside bomb explosion, the U.S. military said.

The soldier, who was walking during a "combat logistic patrol," was hit by the vehicle, the military said.

The soldier's death brings the number of U.S. military deaths in the war to 1,630.

Other developments

  • A rocket fired at Abu Ghraib prison wounded five detainees -- three seriously, the U.S. military said Friday.
  • In northwestern Baghdad, a car bomb killed two Iraqi soldiers on Friday and wounded three others in an Iraqi army convoy, Iraqi police said. The attack happened about 2:15 p.m. (6:15 a.m. ET), not long after a mortar round wounded two people in front of a Shiite mosque in another northwestern district of the capital.
  • Iraq's transitional Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari began a two-day official trip to Turkey on Friday, focusing on security and economic issues with his counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two leaders will discuss reconstruction in Iraq and greater economic ties. Al-Jaafari said he would travel to Syria soon and demand that country do more to secure the border. (Full story)
  • CNN's Enes Dulami, Kevin Flower, Kianne Sadeq, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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