Iraq's foreign minister says his government is ready to put former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on trial. Hoshyar Zebari also backed up the U.S. warning to Iraq's neighbors not to provide aid to insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
More than one year after Saddam Hussein was captured by coalition forces in Iraq, authorities there say they are ready to try him.
"He (Saddam) would be eligible to all the benefits for a free trial. He will be eligible to have his own people, let's say, who could defend him in court. We will give him the same justice he has denied us for many years."
That was Iraqi Foreign Minister
, whose interview with CNN's "Late Edition" was broadcast Sunday.
"We are not afraid, or we are not hesitant, that Saddam will expose certain things. I think we have abundance of evidence to try him, or prosecute him, and the final judgment would be for the Iraqi justice."
Officials say there will be a total of 12 charges filed against Saddam Hussein, compiled from a list of 500 criminal counts. These charges are expected to include references to the 1988 chemical attack on Halabja, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the deadly suppression of Shi'ite Muslims.
Mr. Zebari says he thinks the trial of Saddam will also, in his words, "impact the security situation," and, he says, the sooner the trial starts, the better. Violence has been on the rise in Iraq, with a recent wave of car bombings resulting in widespread civilian casualties.
In response to questions about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is believed to have been wounded by coalition forces, the Iraqi official repeated Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's calls to neighboring countries not to help the Jordanian leader of the al-Qaida network in Iraq.
"It would be a hostile act, not only (toward) the United States, but for us, for the Iraqi government, too, because he is one of the most wanted people."
Meanwhile, the Iraqi foreign minister said his government hopes to, in his words, "re-engage" the international community in helping Iraq at an upcoming conference in Brussels.
"We think the international community can do more. The good thing, there is a positive change in the attitude of many of the countries, even the United Nations. So, we want to build on this positive change to ensure more support and more assistance to the Iraqi government."
The Brussels meeting is set for June 22nd. The co-hosts are the United States and the European Union.