Expert: Saddam Signed Death Order

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sits alone in the defendant's dock moments after arriving for his trial held under tight security in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Wednesday, April 19, 2006. (AP Photo/David Furst, Pool) AP Photo/David Furst

Handwriting experts authenticated Saddam Hussein's signatures on more documents related to a crackdown on Shiites in the 1980s, the chief judge in his trial said Wednesday. Among the documents was apparently an order approving death sentences for 148 Shiites.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants were in the courtroom in the latest session of the trial Wednesday, as chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman read a report by handwriting experts on two documents said to be signed by Saddam.

The experts confirmed the signatures were the former Iraqi leader's, Abdel-Rahman said.

Saddam sat silently throughout the three-hour session, but several of his seven co-defendants disputed the experts' report, calling it biased and demanding an international panel examine the documents.

The experts' report did not give details on the documents, but one of them was dated June 16, 1984. That is the same date of a memo approving the death sentences of the Shiites, presented by prosecutors earlier in the six-month-old trial.

After a session of about three hours, Abdel-Rahman adjourned the trial until April 24 to allow experts to look at more documents.

In other recent developments:

  • Parliament will convene on Thursday after a three-day delay despite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's refusal to step aside and break the deadlock over a new government, officials said Wednesday. The 275-member assembly had been set to convene Monday but agreed to a delay to give Shiites time to resolve the dispute over their nomination of al-Jaafari, CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reported.

  • Militants killed two people at elementary schools in a mainly Shiite district of Baghdad on Wed., the government said. But police in the neighborhood denied any attack occurred. The National Security Ministry said the dead were a school guard and a teacher. It said the guard was stabbed to death by militants in front of students, while the teacher was shot outside the school as he arrived in the morning for classes. But Ali al-Obeidi, the director of the police in the Shaab district, said there was no attack against any school in the area.

  • The body of the brother of one of Iraq's hard-line Sunni politicians turned up at Baghdad's morgue, three weeks after the man was kidnapped. Taha al-Mutlaq, brother of Saleh al-Mutlaq – a politician who is a major player in the political talks to form a new government – had disappeared nearly three weeks ago while traveling to Salahuddin province to the north. It is the second time in the past week that the brother of a major Sunni politician has died violently.

  • Insurgents blew up an empty police station under construction south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Wednesday. Half of the building collapsed in the late-night explosion Tuesday in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, a statement said. The building was almost ready to be handed over to the Iraqi police, police Capt. Rasheed al-Samarie said.

  • Two roadside bombs in Baghdad killed at least two bystanders Wednesday while at least six people died in targeted shootings in the capital. One bomb targeted a police patrol in a western neighborhood, killing one and injuring eleven. The other exploded near a hospital in eastern Baghdad. One person died and four were wounded.

  • Gunmen in the southern neighborhood of Dora staged three separate attacks, killing a construction worker, trade ministry employee and three power plant workers who had been snatched from their car an hour earlier. Gunmen also killed a medic in west Baghdad.

  • In a southeastern suburb, police discovered five bodies of Iraqis, handcuffed and blindfolded.
    • Joel Roberts

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