Iran To File Complaint Against Saddam

Iran said Sunday it has prepared a criminal complaint against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search) for his 1980 invasion of Iran and for using chemical weapons against Iranians during the neighboring nations' eight-year war.

Tehran will file the documents with the Iraqi court where Saddam is standing trial, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. He did not say precisely when the complaint would be lodged.

"One of the crimes Saddam committed was his invasion of Iran and starting the war, killing many Iranian citizens and using chemical weapons in Halabja (within Iraq) and other places (in Iran) during the war," Asefi told reporters.

Iran expects Saddam will face judgment in an open trial for war crimes, Asefi said.

"We have prepared the complaint and Iran will definitely file the complaint with the Iraqi court ," he told a news conference. "We will hand over our documents to the court ... We believe the court has to investigate Saddam's crimes transparently and openly."

Iraq took legal custody of Saddam from the United States on Wednesday, and the former dictator's first court appearance Thursday dominated TV screens across the Middle East, where such images are unprecedented, and prompted many calls for his execution.

The broad charges formally outlined against Saddam included the 1988 chemical weapons massacre of Kurds in Halabja (search), Iraq, the slaughter of Shiites (search) during a 1991 uprising in southern Iraq and the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war apparently was not cited.

At this stage, however, Saddam was merely being informed of areas where he could face indictment and there is nothing to preclude Iraqi authorities from expanding or reducing the list of charges later on.

Asefi said Iran's top diplomat in Baghdad will ask Iraqi leaders why Saddam's 1980 invasion of Iran was not given the same weight as other crimes, such as the invasion of Kuwait a decade later.

"We have asked our charge d'affaires in Baghdad to seek explanation from the Iraqis on why the attack on Iran did not feature among the charges against him, even though the judge said the question would be addressed at a later date," Asefi said.

Saddam's defense team, which includes lawyers from Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya and Western countries such as the United States, Britain, France and Belgium, has accused the interim Iraqi government and the court trying Saddam of being "illegitimate because they were appointed by the occupation."

The trial of the 67-year-old Saddam stands to be a sensation, and Iranian leaders say it should depict the 30-year history of Saddam's iron-fisted rule, including U.S. support of him during the Iran-Iraq war.

Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, said last week the trial would be open, but earlier he suggested closing it to keep Saddam from broadcasting embarrassing tales about past links to foreign governments. The U.S. government was among those to quietly support Saddam's Iraq in the war with Iran.

Thursday's session already was closed in good part, off-limits to the public and all but a few journalists. Saddam's voice also was suppressed on the videotape aired on Iraqi television and no official transcript has been released.