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UPDATED: 17:32, June 30, 2004
Saddam handed over to Iraqi legal custody
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Saddam Hussein and some of his top aides, who have been under detention of the US-led coalition, were handed over to Iraqi legal custody on Wednesday, just two days after power handover to the interim Iraqi government, Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV channel reported.

"Today at 10:15 (0615 GMT) ... Iraq assumed legal custody of Saddam," a US military official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, a spokesman of the Iraqi government said "Saddam Hussein will receive in his place of detention a letter detailing the accusations against him. On Thursday, he will be taken under escort and the judge will read him the accusations before charging him."

The US military will still guard Saddam and his 11 former aides despite their transfer into Iraqi legal custody.

Profile: Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Saddam was born on April 28, 1937, to a poor farmer's family in Tikrit of Saladdin Province, northwest of Baghdad. Under the influence of his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, an Iraqi army officer and crusader for Arab unity, Saddam joined the Arab Baath Socialist Party when he was 19.

Saddam made his debut in politics in 1959 when he took part in the assassination of the then Iraqi Prime Minister Abudul Karim Kassim. He escaped first to Syria and then to Egypt, where he joined the leadership of the Baath party's branch in Cairo in 1962, and studied at the College of Law in Cairo in 1962-1963.

Returning to Iraq after the Ramadan revolution in February 1963, Saddam became a member of the 4th regional congress and the 6th national congress of the Baath party later that year. He was elected into the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq after the party's rule was overthrown at the end of 1963.

In 1964, Saddam was arrested for plotting to overthrow the regime of Abdul Salam Aref.

After escaping from prison in 1967, Saddam helped lead the revolution on July 17, 1968, which eventually brought the Baath party to power under Gen. Ahmed Hassan Bakr. Saddam was elected vice chairman of the Revolution Command Council in November 1969.

Saddam ascended to the top of political power when he was 42 years old. In July 1979, Saddam was elected secretary general of the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq, chairman of the Revolution Command Council, president of the Republic of Iraq and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

In September 1980, Saddam declared the abrogation of the Algiers Accord signed in 1975 with Iran, and soon afterward a war broke out. The eight-year war between Iraq and Iran killed about 1 million people in the two countries and caused at least 900 billion US dollars in total losses.

In August 1990, Saddam ordered the invasion to Kuwait, proclaiming it as Iraq's 19th province. His refusal to retreat from Kuwait led to the Gulf War in 1991.

The US-led allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm against the Iraqi troops in February 1991. In spite of the defeat in the Gulf War, Saddam remained in power. As the only candidate, he scored a landslide victory with 99.96 percent of the vote in a presidential referendum in October 1995 and won another seven-year term.

In May 2001, he was again elected secretary general of the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq. In October 2002, Saddam got 100 percent of the vote in a nationwide referendum for another seven-year term, which he described as a show of the Iraqi people's defiance of the US war threats.

In April 2003, Iraqis, with the help of US troops, toppled the bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in capital Baghdad, marking the fall of the Saddam regime.

In December, he was captured by US troops at the bottom of a spider hole near his hometown of Tikrit and has since been held by the US forces.

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