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Saddam Judge's Relatives Gunned Down

The brother-in-law of the new judge presiding over Saddam Hussein's genocide trial was shot to death Friday morning in Baghdad in an attack that also seriously wounded his son, police said.

Kadhim Abdul-Hussein and his son Karrar were shot in their car in the capital's western Ghazaliya neighborhood by unidentified assailants, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were
related to Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad.

Al-Khalifa took over as the lead judge in the genocide trial of the former Iraqi president after protests of bias from the prosecution saw his predecessor forced out.

The new chief judge has run the trial in a firm manner, tolerating very little disruption from the area where Saddam and six co-defendants sit in the courtroom. He has thrown the deposed president out of the trial several times, which is presently adjourned for a two week recess after a shouting match between the two men ended the last session Tuesday.

Saddam and his six co-defendants have been on trial since Aug. 21 for their roles in a bloody 1987-1988 crackdown against Kurdish rebels. The defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.

In other developments:

  • A new curfew has been imposed on Baghdad. A spokesman for the prime minister says the Iraqi Cabinet has decided to impose an immediate ban on all vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the capital until Sunday morning. But he refused to say why. A source at the Interior Ministry says "intelligence information on the security situation made a curfew necessary." But that official, too, refused to provide further details.
  • Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri condemned President Bush in a video statement released Friday, calling him a failure and a liar. "Why don't you tell them how many million citizens of America and its allies you intend to kill in search of the imaginary victory and in breathless pursuit of the mirage towards which you are driving your people's sons in order increase your profits?" al-Zawahri said in a portion of the video released by the Virginia-based IntelCenter.
  • Eight bodies with signs of torture were found in Baghdad on Friday, more apparent victims of the sectarian death squads that roam the capital, while three people died in scattered attacks. The corpses of seven men and one woman were all found in east Baghdad neighborhoods. They were blindfolded, and had their hands and legs bound, police said. U.S. commanders said since the start of Ramadan, which Sunnis started observing last Saturday and Shiites on Monday, there has been a spike in sectarian violence in Iraq, centered in the capital.
  • In an Iraqi army and police joint operation in the city of Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, three bodies were discovered in a house and weapons were found in a mosque, Provincial police chief Maj. Ghassan al-Bawi said. Sixty suspected insurgents were taken into custody in the early morning operation, he said.
  • An audio recording attributed to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, released on the Internet Thursday, calls on Muslims to make Ramadan "a month of holy war", and for militants to capture as many Western prisoners in Iraq as they can. The voice, believed to be that of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also urged scientists with knowledge of nuclear and chemical weapons to join the Iraqi insurgents' cause.
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