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Iraqi Authorities Assume Legal Custody of Saddam - 2004-06-30


Iraq's interim government has taken legal custody of Saddam Hussein and 11 other top officials of his deposed regime.

U.S. authorities transferred legal custody of the men today (Wednesday), but the U.S. military will continue to guard them.

The transfer means the former Iraqi leader and officials are now criminal defendants under Iraqi law. They are no longer prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

The men are to appear in court Thursday for a formal reading of charges expected to include genocide and crimes against umanity.

Meanwhile, in a newspaper interview (published today), Iraq's president, Ghazi al-Yawar, said the government has decided to reinstate the death penalty for certain crimes. He said the decision will be formally announced in the "near future."

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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