Saddam Tribunal Set Up

Iraqi leaders have set up a tribunal of judges and prosecutors to try ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and other members of his Baathist (search) regime, a spokesman announced on Tuesday.

Salem Chalabi, a U.S.-educated lawyer and nephew of the head of the Iraqi National Congress (search), was named as general director of the tribunal, and he has appointed a panel of seven judges and four prosecutors, INC spokesman Entefadh Qanbar said.

The tribunal, with a 2004-2005 budget of $75 million, will also prosecute any members of Saddam's regime who are charged, Qanbar said.

A date has yet to be set for the trial of Saddam, who was captured by U.S. troops in December and has since been held by U.S. troops at an undisclosed location in or near Baghdad.

The court and prosecutors will determine charges against Saddam and his former officials, Qanbar said.

He said the tribunal will be an Iraqi court, not an international body, and will rely on a mix of Iraqi criminal law, international regulations such as the Geneva Convention (search) and experiences of bodies such as the Rwanda war crimes tribunal.

The judges and prosecutors will undergo training in those areas, he added.

Qanbar said the first batch of judges and prosecutors have been selected by the Iraqi Governing Council's judicial committee and Chalabi, the head of the court. Further appointments will be made in the future.

The committee selected Chalabi as head of the court under a law passed earlier by the council and approved by top U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer. The INC, headed by council member Ahmad Chalabi, has a seat on the committee.

Since Saddam's regime fell, some 300,000 bodies were found buried in mass graves, victims of his regime's persecution of political enemies, Kurds and Shiite Muslims, and other groups, U.S. officials say. Saddam's military also used chemical weapons against troops and civilians during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and during a Kurdish uprising.