Saddam may face death penalty, say Iraqis

Iraq could execute former leader Saddam Hussein if he is found guilty, the director of the country's war crimes tribunal system said yesterday.

Salem Chalabi, in charge of setting up a tribunal to try members of the ousted regime, said that after the Iraqi government gains sovereignty on 30 June, it will have the power to end the suspension of the death penalty decreed by the US occupation chief, Paul Bremer.

"The Iraqi government has to affirmatively take that step to lift the suspension," Mr Chalabi said on television yesterday. "If the suspension imposed by Ambassador Bremer is lifted there is the possibility of the death penalty being imposed", on those convicted of murder or rape.

Mr Chalabi said tribunal officials were "negotiating quite intensively with the coalition forces" about taking custody of Saddam and other detained members of his regime after the handover of power.

Reports claimed that coalition sources said a deal had been done for the new Iraqi administration, which would take legal custody of Saddam when it assumes control of the country on 30 June. US forces will continue to guard him.

In Iraq yesterday, insurgents tightened their grip on the vital airport road in Baghdad, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding 11 others - four critically - when they detonated a bomb beside the road as a convoy passed. The US Army concedes it no longer fully controls the road linking Baghdad to the airport by insisting that members of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, contractors and other foreigners travel on the four-lane highway only at certain times, totalling six hours a day. During these periods, traffic will be protected by stepped-up helicopter and vehicle patrols.

The airport road is probably the most important in Iraq, and the loss of the airport to US forces last year signalled the beginnings of the regime's collapse. The continued assertions by the Iraqi information minister at the time that the Iraqi army still held the airport were widely derided abroad.

Baghdad airport is mainly used by the military but there are a small number of civilian flights. Along the road, palm trees have been cut down and grass and shrubs burnt to deny guerrillas cover but attacks have increased over the past month. Roadside bombs, such as that used yesterday, typically consist of old 155mm and 122mm shells detonated either by a command wire or a remote control like those used to open garage doors or operate a child's toy.

The patrol attacked yesterday consisted of American and Iraqi soldiers. US soldiers said the ambushers waited for them to pass, then blew up the Iraqi vehicle. American troops took the Iraq wounded to a US medical treatment centre. As they waited for news of the wounded, Iraqi soldiers wept and were hugged by their American comrades, agency reports said.

"The hard-core terrorists don't care who they kill," said Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Ryan, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. "These guys are bigger targets than we are." The implication is that the insurgents are trying to inflict losses on the fledgling Iraqi army, still only 7,000 strong, before it can be organised.

Another reason why an Iraqi unit was attacked yesterday is that Iraqi soldiers are more vulnerable, because they are far less well-armed and protected than Americans. But the US wants to show Iraqi forces playing an active security role.

A typical joint US-Iraqi patrol on the airport consists of a US Humvee and, 50 yards back, a truck filled with Iraqi soldiers. The Iraqis, generally, do not have bullet-proof vests, sometimes do not wear helmets and carry old Kalashnikovs.

Violence continues at a high level throughout Iraq. On Saturday, there was an attempt to assassinate the Health Minister, Dr Aladdin al-Alwan, which failed but was followed by a gun battle in which seven Iraqi policemen were wounded. Ten Iraqis were killed and 12 wounded in battles with US forces north of Baghdad. A US Marine was killed in Anbar province west of Baghdad.

In Baghdad there were two loud explosions in the evening, and, earlier in the day, a mortar round landed near the Central Bank, wounding six policemen and four civilians. A US air strike in Fallujah on Saturday killed 22 people but there is still no agreement about who died. The Americans say that the two houses destroyed were used by militants led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is blamed for leading the suicide bombing campaign.

But Iraqi officers in Fallujah denied this was true. "We inspected the damage, we looked through the bodies of the women and children and elderly. This was a family," said Brigadier Nouri Aboud of the Fallujah Brigade, the force of former Iraqi soldiers nominally in control of the city. He said there were no signs of foreigners in the houses, and added: "Zarqawi and his men have no presence in Fallujah."

¿ A videotape showing a South Korean hostage begging for his life and pleading with his government to withdraw its troops from Iraq was broadcast on the Arab television network al-Jazeera last night.The kidnappers identified themselves as belonging to a group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which is linked to al-Qa'ida. They gave South Korea 24 hours to meet its demand or "we will send you the head of this Korean". A South Korean station said the hostage was Kim Sun-il, 33, an employee of a South Korean company. It said he was captured in the Fallujah area.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Office Administrator - Full or Part Time

£14600 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 2003 the company...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Content Marketing Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing, Google certi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn