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IRAQ

Top Saddam aide back in court

BAGHDAD — Tariq Aziz, the international face of the regime of hanged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, was back in the dock yesterday on charges of crimes against humanity.

Mr. Aziz, 72, is on trial along with seven other defendants over the execution in 1992 of 42 Baghdad merchants accused of racketeering while Iraq was under U.N. sanctions.

The former foreign minister and deputy prime minister, who surrendered to American forces in April 2003 shortly after the invasion, said people who had tried to assassinate him in the past were out to finish the job.

Mr. Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam’s inner circle, said he was “proud” to have been a member of the now-disbanded ruling Ba’ath Party, but that he could not be held responsible for the charges against him.

ISRAEL

Olmert faces second grilling

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be questioned this week for a second time in the latest corruption probe against him, which has stirred calls for his resignation, police said yesterday.

Police are seeking to establish whether Mr. Olmert dispensed any favors in exchange for questionable funds he received from U.S. financier Morris Talansky during the 13 years before he became Israel’s leader in 2006.

Mr. Olmert, 62, was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003 and then the Cabinet’s trade and industry minister. State Prosecutor Moshe Lador told the Israeli High Court on Monday that Mr. Olmert received envelopes stuffed with cash from Mr. Talansky.

QATAR

Electoral reform offers more choice

DOHA — Qatar’s appointed consultative council has adopted an electoral law paving the way for two-thirds of its 45 members to be directly elected in a first for the Gulf emirate, according to press reports.

The elections have been in the offing since a new constitution came into force in the emirate in June 2005.

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