Saddam to be formally charged

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Judges can only decide cases based on the evidence presented at the trial, and a trial must be open if the defendant wishes it.

Human rights groups and many governments long complained that Saddam’s regime showed little or no respect for such legal protections, routinely rounding up opponents without trial and torturing and killing prisoners on a vast scale.

Changes to the legal and penal code approved by Saddam a year after he came to power in 1979 will not become part of Iraq’s basic law.

The changes defined a new class of “political” criminal offenses, made it a felony to criticize the government in the media and prescribed the death penalty for those who betray the ruling Ba’ath Party or who “promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including freemasonry, or who associate [themselves] with Zionist organizations.”

Questions remain over the fate of legal reforms adopted under the U.S. occupation.

CPA administrator L. Paul Bremer signed a decree suspending the death penalty in Iraq, but Iraqi President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer said this week that the new government plans to reinstate it.

Tribunal prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty for Saddam and a number of his top aides.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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