Former president Saddam Hussein faces further court proceedings as he is convicted at his first trial on charges stemming from the massacre of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims in 1982, a senior spokesman said Sunday.
Meanwhile, in heavy fighting on Sunday in the city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq, the U.S. military said 13 insurgents were killed as troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment continued efforts to take control of the city.
Saddam had been expected to face a dozen or more proceedings for alleged crimes committed by his government. But Laith Kubba, a presidential spokesman who announced the trial date Sunday, said that if Saddam is convicted in the first case, his sentence is likely to be carried out as swiftly as possible.
"My guess is if the court passes judgment, it should be implemented without further delay," Kubba said. He added that it was not possible to forecast how long the trial would last, repots Houston Chronicle.
According to Saddam and seven henchmen will be tried by the Iraqi Special Tribunal over the 1982 killing of 143 residents in the Shiite village of Dujail, northeast of Baghdad, where he had been the target of a failed assassination bid.
The 68-year-old is also expected to face separate trials at a later date on further counts of crimes against humanity, particularly over the gassing of Kurds and the mass killings of Shiites in the south of the country.
If the sentence is confirmed by the Supreme Council for Justice, the highest judicial authority in Iraq, and approved by the presidential council, it 'will be implemented immediately... He could be executed after the first round'.
Iraqi Shiites and Kurds, long-oppressed under Saddam, greeted Sunday's news of a trial date with relief; although some pointed out that the Dujail massacre was just one of a series of crimes for which they wanted vengeance.
'We would have preferred him to answer for all the crimes he committed against the Iraqi people,' said Kurdish lawmaker Nawzat Saleh.