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Some Iraqis Disappointed Saddam is POW - 2004-01-10


Some Iraqi leaders are expressing disappointment that Saddam Hussein has been granted "prisoner of war" status by the United States.

Iraqi Governing Council member Dara Nuraddin said today (Saturday) he is dismayed the U.S. government did not discuss the ousted dictator's status with the Governing Council. He said Iraqis should still be allowed to decide Saddam's fate.

But Saddam's new legal status could prevent that. Under the Geneva Conventions, POWs can be tried for crimes against humanity only by an international tribunal or the occupying power -- in this case, the United States.

As an enemy POW, could be tried for crimes against humanity, including the 1988 gassing of thousands of Kurds at Halabja or the persecution of Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq.

Pentagon officials said Friday the former Iraqi leader met the legal definition of an enemy POW under the Geneva accords because he was head of the Iraqi military.

As a POW, Saddam is entitled to visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Officials with that organization say their requests to see Saddam have not yet been granted.

Meanwhile, the US military confirmed (Saturday) that U.S. troops mistakenly shot dead two Iraqi policemen in the northerncity of Kirkuk late Friday. A military spokeswoman (Major Josslyn Aberle) said the soldiers mistook the policemen for assailants and opened fired when they failed to heed calls to stop.

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