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Mideast nations prepare Hussein lawsuits

KUWAIT -- Countries around the Middle East lined up yesterday to sue Saddam Hussein for crimes he allegedly committed against them while he was leader of Iraq.

 

Kuwait, invaded by Iraq in 1990, became the latest of several countries, including Iran and Israel, to say it was preparing a file on alleged crimes and wanted to take part in any trial.

The Kuwait News Agency quoted Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah as saying the foreign and justice ministries had been instructed "to prepare a complete file on the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein against Kuwait and its people."

Hussein is in US custody after his capture Saturday by US forces.

The US-backed Governing Council said he would face a public trial in Iraq. Washington has said it would help ensure the court meets international standards.

After Hussein's capture, Iran said it was preparing a criminal complaint to present to any international court that might try Hussein over the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in which about 300,000 Iranians were killed.

"The Foreign Ministry has taken some measures on this issue and has collected the necessary documents. I hope we can defend Iranians' rightful demands at a proper place," government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said Monday. Ramazanzadeh said that while the Iraqi people have priority in trying Hussein, "that doesn't negate the rights of others for filing a suit at international circles against him."

Israel, which came under Iraqi Scud missile attack in the 1991 Gulf War, has said it wants Hussein prosecuted for crimes it says he committed against the Jewish state.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told lawmakers during a closed-door session of parliament's security committee Monday that Israel wanted Hussein to stand trial for the missile attacks and for funding Palestinian suicide bombers.

Yesterday, a group of Lebanese clerics said they planned to sue Hussein for torture and imprisonment they said they endured while studying Shi'ite Islam in Iraq, home to some of the holiest Shi'ite centers.

"Lebanese clerics who were harmed by Saddam Hussein's crimes have decided to file a lawsuit against the deposed Iraqi president and demand the fate of missing Lebanese clerics and other innocent people be revealed," leading Lebanese cleric Sheikh Afif al-Nabulsi said in a statement. A senior State Department official said after Hussein's capture that Washington reserved the right to bring its own charges against the man US-led forces ousted in April. The official declined to say whether the United States might seek to prosecute Hussein for an alleged 1993 Iraqi assassination attempt against former President George H. W. Bush.

Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein after his capture by US forces. (Reuters Photo)
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