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European Court Tosses Saddam Rights Lawsuit

Europe's human rights court on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed by Saddam Hussein against 21 European countries whose troops joined the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq, saying the case fell outside its jurisdiction.

Saddam said his arrest, detention and subsequent handover to the Iraqi authorities and the ongoing trial in Baghdad breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

The former Iraqi president said coalition forces had violated his right to life, liberty and security, as well as several other articles of Europe's human rights convention. He noted that he could face execution if found guilty in a trial that he claimed lacked even the basic tools for a defense.

He argued that his case fell within the jurisdiction of the European nations that joined the U.S.-led coalition, which he said continued to hold de facto power in Iraq even after the June 2004 transfer of authority to Iraqis. He said that if sentenced to death, the verdict would violate two articles of Europe's human rights treaty: abolition of the death penalty in times of peace, and abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances.

The European Court of Human Rights, which deals with human rights violations on the territory of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe, said Saddam's suit did not fall within the jurisdiction of any of the 21 nations cited.

"The court considered that the applicant had not demonstrated that he fell within the jurisdiction of the respondent states on any of the bases alleged. He did not fall within their jurisdiction on the basis of their control of the territory where the alleged violations took place," the court said in a statement.

"Even if he could have fallen within a state's jurisdiction because of his detention by it, he had not shown that any one of those states had any responsibility for, or any involvement or role in, his arrest and subsequent detention."

The court said the case had been dealt with confidentially to protect Saddam's legal representatives.