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Saddam Hussein On Trial

The nation of Iraq is trying former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and seven others, including Taha Yasseen Ramadan, Iraq's former vice president, and Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, the Ba'ath party's intelligence chief.

These defendants are on trial before the Iraq Special Tribunal and face charges, including crimes against humanity, for their alleged role in 1982 in a series of events in the village of Dujail, a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite village north of Baghdad. There are allegations that five-hundred-fifty men, women and children were arrested without warrants, and that torture and killings followed in retaliation for an attack on Saddam Hussein's motorcade by several gunmen in Dujail. The families of the victims were forced to leave their homes and were detained in a camp in the desert.

This will be the first trial before the Iraqi-led and managed Iraq Special Tribunal. Aqeel al-Ubaidi is a resident of Dujail. He told a reporter, "Since the fall of the regime, we have been waiting for this trial. The trial," he said, "won't bring back those who died, but at least it will help put out the fire and anger inside us."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says, "The Saddam trial is going to be an important process for the Iraqi people in coming to terms and really closing. . . .a dark chapter":

"Saddam responsible for the brutal oppression of his own people and the deaths of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people during his two-decade reign."

Mr. McCormack says the Saddam's trial "is an Iraqi process". "It needs to be an Iraqi process, he said, "because the Iraqi people deserve the opportunity to hold to account the person and people responsible for this era of brutality:"

"If you look at it, the basic elements for a trial that meet international standards are there. You have a defendant that has access to defense counsel. You have an appeals process. You have a process that is then set up in accordance with Iraqi laws. Now we'll see how this process moves forward. It's certainly our expectation and our hope would be that it moves forward in accordance with the laws and the regulations that have been put in place."

The Iraq Special Tribunal has a series of investigations in progress, including the 1988 Anfar campaign against the Kurdish population, the chemical weapons attack that killed some five-thousand Iraqi Kurds in Halabja, the draining of the Marshes; the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and the brutal suppression of a Shi'ite rebellion that followed the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

The fate of Saddam Hussein is now in the hands of the Iraqi courts.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.