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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:29, September 08, 2005
Talabani: Saddam confessed to crimes
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Iraq's president Jalal Talabani said former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had confessed to killings and other "crimes," including the massacre of thousands of Kurds in the late 1980s, and should be executed many times over.

On Tuesday evening, Talabani told Iraqi television that an investigating judge "was able to extract confessions from Saddam's mouth" about numerous executions he had allegedly personally ordered during his 24 years in power.

But a legal consultant retained by Saddam's family expressed skepticism over the claim, saying the former strongman had not mentioned any confession when he met his lawyer on Monday.

Saddam's trial is scheduled to open on October 19. He and seven other senior Baath Party officials have been charges for their alleged role in the 1982 massacre of Shi'ites in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, following an assassination attempt there against him. The trial is likely to be the first of a series of legal proceedings against Saddam on numerous other charges.

In the late-night TV interview, Talabani said Saddam was responsible form many more atrocities than just the killings in Dujail. These included the so-called Anfal campaign in 1987-88, which cost the lives of more than 180,000 Kurds and resulted in the ethnic cleansing of numerous Kurdish communities in the north of Iraq.

"Saddam Hussein is a war criminal and he deserves to be executed 20 times a day for his crimes against humanity," said Talabani, who heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party. He added that Saddam had tried to assassinate him at least 20 times.

But Abdel Haq Alani, Saddam's family's legal consultant, said Talabani's allegations sounded like the president was trying to prejudice the trial.

"Let's not have a trial on TV. Let the court of law, not the media, make its ruling on this," Alani said.

Alani, condemned Talabani's remarks and said the alleged confession "comes to me as a surprise, a big surprise."

"I have heard nothing whatsoever about this alleged media speculation," Alani said in Amman, Jordan. "This is a matter for the judiciary to decide on, not for politicians and Jalal should know better than that."

Saddam's legal team said it plans to challenge the starting date as allowing insufficient time for a proper defence. Defence lawyers also said they would challenge the trial's legitimacy.

Saddam has been in US custody at an undisclosed site in Baghdad since his capture in December 2003.

Top Defence Ministry official killed

Just after Talabani made such comment in TV interview, gunmen shot and killed Major Geneneral Hadi Hassan Omran Wednesday, an Iraqi Defence Ministry director general, as he drove through the southern Dora neighborhood in Baghdad, said Doctor Muhanad Jawad at Yarmouk hospital.

In a separate incident, the doctor said, gunmen killed Colonel Ammar Ismail Arkan, an Interior Ministry commando, and wounded four bodyguards in Baghdad's western Ghazaliyah District. Both attacks occurred about midday.

In the southern city of Basra, police Lieutenant Colonel Karim Al-Zaidi said the roadside bombing targeted a convoy of "security contractors, killing three of them and wounding one." He did not know the victims' nationality or for whom they worked.

Also Wednesday, Baha al-Araji, deputy head of the Constitution Committee, said the new basic law would be sent to the government printing house today.

He claimed it stood unchanged from the version sent to parliament by the drafting committee August 28, after several deadlines were missed.

"The draft is unchanged from the one presented to the National Assembly. We will hand these five million copies to the Trade Ministry to be distributed in the monthly food ration allocations."

Iraqis will vote on the charter in an October 15 referendum, with the outcome still not assured because of fundamental opposition from the country's Sunni minority.

Source: China Daily

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