First Saddam Trial Date Set

Letterman - Friends
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A court has decided to begin the first trial of Saddam Hussein on Oct. 19 and is in the process of notifying his legal team, an official said Friday.

That's just four days after the Iraqi people go to the polls to vote on their new constitution, reports CBS News' Peter Gow in Baghdad.

The official said the date was chosen just so that Iraqis would have completed the referendum on the constitution before the start of the trial.

The new constitution is opposed by many in Saddam's Sunni Arab community.

Saddam and three co-defendants will stand trial for the 1982 massacre of Shiites in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, after a failed assassination attempt on the dictator. If convicted, Saddam could receive the death penalty.

Other co-defendants in the case are Barazan Ibrahim, intelligence chief at the time and Saddam's half brother; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, at the time a Baath party official in Dujail.

Saddam is expected to face about a dozen trials for alleged crimes committed by his regime, including the gassing of Kurds in Halabja and the 1991 suppression of a Shiite uprising in the south.