BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP -Iraq”s prime minister said Thursday that Saddam Hussein will go on trial "in a matter of months," and he suggested the former dictator could receive the death penalty if convicted in a fair, open trial.
Huge interest developed around Saddam”s imminent trial over the past week following comments by senior Iraqi officials, including President Jalal Talabani, that the ousted leader could appear before a special tribunal within two months.
Iraqi authorities have said Saddam will face 14 thoroughly documented cases relating to alleged crimes committed during his 23-year rule. Many carry the death penalty.
The charges include killing rival politicians, gassing Kurds, invading Kuwait and suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991.
After meeting senior European officials in Baghdad on Thursday, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said: "We think that every crime has a proportionate punishment, but there can be no execution without proving the crime."
The death sentence was part of the Iraqi legal system before the U.S.-led invasion two years ago. The occupation authorities suspended capital punishment in 2003, but it was reinstated last year by Iraq”s former interim government following the restoration of Iraq”s sovereignty in June 2004.
Al-Jaafari said Saddam”s "case must be concluded in a transparent manner."
U.S. forces captured Saddam in December 2003 hiding in a concealed hole near his hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. He is jailed at a U.S. military-run prison complex near Baghdad airport, which holds 110 high-profile detainees.