Watch CBSN Live

Saddam Back In Court

The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed Wednesday after a two-week break, and the ousted Iraqi president - who refused to attend the last session - was in court.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial in the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims following a 1982 attempt on his life in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

CBS News Correspondent Cami McCormick reports the trial opened with testimony from the first of five witnesses the prosecution hopes to call Wednesday. The lead witness is not shielded by a curtain, as some are.

Saddam Hussein, reports McCormick from the courtroom in Baghdad, is wearing a dark suit and a white shirt, seemed rested and was smiling as he greeted his co-defendants.

The former Iraqi leader boycotted the last session of his trial, saying at the time it was because he was exhausted and angry over the way he has been treated.

The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed a day after Sunni Arab and secular Iraqi groups complained of fraud in last week's parliamentary elections, angrily demanding an investigation into preliminary results showing the governing Shiite religious bloc taking a commanding lead.

The United States had hoped the Dec. 15 vote would lead to a more inclusive government, giving the Sunni Arab minority greater representation in parliament and undermining the insurgency.

But early results showed an Iraqi electorate divided clearly along ethnic and religious lines, with a religious Shiite alliance taking a comfortable — but not dominant lead.

When the votes are certified in early January, the Shiites will still have to broker a coalition in parliament to form a government.

But politicians on all sides can barely contain their hostility toward each other.

In other developments:

  • In Baghdad, a driver for the Jordanian Embassy was kidnapped as he drove to work, Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh said in Amman.
  • Gunmen in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, shot dead one of the city's Sunni clerics, Imam Amer al-Alwani, outside his home, police said. In the western part of the city, clashes between a U.S. patrol and insurgents attempting to plant a bomb left one insurgent wounded, while an explosion occurred in the center of the city late Tuesday, police said. There were no details of any casualties.
  • Ukraine began the final withdrawal of its remaining 876 troops on Tuesday. The government began withdrawing the troops in March. President Viktor Yushchenko made a pullout from Iraq one of his campaign promises.
  • A joint Iraqi-American patrol found 14 corpses on the outskirts of Fallujah, some of which were handcuffed and tortured, Dr. Mohammed Hameed of the Fallujah hospital said Tuesday.
  • An unidentified gunmen set fire to two trucks carrying goods to American troops on a highway in Baghdad, police Maj. Mosa Abdelkreem said.
  • Gunmen in the southern town of Buhriz, a former Saddam stronghold about 35 miles north of Baghdad, opened fire on a car late Monday, killing four women and wounding three women and two children, Diyalaa police said.

    Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned that sectarianism only increases the risk of violence, and that Iraq needed a governing coalition that bridged the divide if it is to prosper.

    "It looks as if people have preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identities," Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters. "But for Iraq to succeed there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation. Sectarianism undercuts prospects for success and increases the risk for conflict among sects."

    Preliminary results for the 275-member parliament from 11 provinces showed the religious Shiite United Iraqi Alliance winning strong majorities in Baghdad and largely Shiite provinces in the south. A senior member of the Alliance, Hussain al-Shahristani, predicted the bloc would receive about 130 seats — 10 less than they have now. Final results are expected in January.

  • Kurdish parties were overwhelmingly ahead in their three northern provinces, while results from one of the four predominantly Sunni Arab provinces, Salahuddin, showed the Sunni Arab minority winning an overwhelming majority.

    Indications were that no party would win the two-thirds majority needed to form a government, and the front-runner would have to search for a coalition partner.

    Although the trend of ethnic and religious-minded voting did not come as a surprise, the U.S. had hoped for a better showing by secular-minded Shiite former prime minister Ayad Allawi.

    The Dec. 15 election was to select Iraq's first full-term parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    Sunni Arabs' complaints of irregularities were particularly concentrated on Baghdad, Iraq's largest electoral district with 59 seats.

    Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the Sunni Arab alliance the Iraqi Accordance Front, said his group would demand a revote in Baghdad if the problems were not addressed.

    "There are many violations and there is forgery," al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press, listing several complaints including voting centers failing to open, shortages in election materials and reports of multiple voting.

    More than 1,000 formal complaints have been made, but only 20 of those were serious, or "red" complaints, electoral commission official Farid Ayar said.

    Khalilzad said "final results will not be announced until those red complaints have been looked at."

    Sunni Arab officials suggested Iraq's security and stability were at stake if their complaints were not addressed.

    Sunnis fear being underrepresented and marginalized. Most estimates say Sunnis make up about 20 percent of the country, though al-Dulaimi claimed they make up about 40 percent — a common Sunni assertion.

    Election officials said that in Baghdad province, the Shiite list United Iraqi Alliance was ahead with about 59 percent of the vote from 89 percent of ballot boxes counted. The Iraqi Accordance Front trailed with 19 percent, followed by Allawi's list with 14 percent.

    Adel Al-Lami, the general director of Iraq's electoral commission, told The Associated Press that officials did not announce the results of the remaining 11 percent because of complaints of irregularities. He refused to elaborate.

    The Iraqi Accordance Front, a coalition of three major Sunni groups, rejected the results, warning of "grave repercussions on security and political stability" if problems were not addressed.

    Al-Dulaimi said that if changes weren't made, Sunni Arabs "will resort to other measures."

    Ibrahim al-Janabi, an official of Allawi's Iraqi National List, also protested.

    "The elections commission is not independent. It is influenced by political parties and by the government," he said.

    A senior member of the United Iraqi Alliance, Jawad al-Maliki, retorted that the Sunni minority should accept the will of the majority.

    "We cannot ignore the facts on the ground.... Democracy means accepting the opinion of the majority. They should accept the other and the outcome of the ballot boxes. The Sunnis need to take this into consideration," he said.

    Iraqis voted at more than 33,000 polling stations in 18 provinces.

    Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, said 25,000 residents of Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad, weren't on voter rolls despite having voted in the last election.

    View CBS News In