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Iraqi Defense Minister Dismisses Report on Capture of Saddam Deputy - 2004-09-06


Iraq's Defense minister has dismissed as "baseless" reports that Iraqi forces have captured one of the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein's ousted dictatorship.

In an interview (with Lebanon's Al Hayat LBC television) Hazem Shaalan said today (Sunday) the defense ministry has "no information" regarding the alleged arrest of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

The comment came hours after a defense ministry spokesman and other Iraqi officials said the former second-in-command to Saddam Hussein had been captured in Tikrit.

The U.S. military has also said it has no information on the alleged capture.

Iraqi authorities say they have taken a blood sample from the captured man to confirm his identity.

The developments came as Iraq's Minister of State said the trial of Saddam Hussein and his top aides will begin in coming weeks.

The minister said Saddam will be tried by the Iraqi courts and denied that U.S. officials will have any involvement.

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

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