Watch CBSN Live

U.S. To Turn Over Saddam To Iraqis

A leading member of Iraq's new interim government tells CBS News that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will soon be handed over to Iraq by the Americans.

National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie says two U.S. soldiers will take the handcuffed former dictator from his cell and give him over to four Iraqi policemen. Saddam will then stand uncuffed in front of a judge.

"The judge is going to give him his rights and his defense and he's going to read him the rights and he's going to issue an arrest warrant against Saddam Hussein," says al-Rubaie.

Saddam will then be chained again and marched back to a cell.

This is a very delicate situation diplomatically, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather. The U.S. wants to maintain physical custody of Saddam but want him to be seen in public, his destiny placed in the hands of the new Iraqi government.

Iraqis will see images of Saddam under their country's system of justice, and in handcuffs in the custody of his own countrymen, facing a process he denied to countless Iraqis, says al-Rubaie.

"We want to show our people that this miserable uh, soul if you like is in the hand of the Iraqis now and we are in control," says al-Rubaie.

The charges against Saddam will be a long list of atrocities. Al-Rubaie says the new government is considering reinstating the death penalty, so that if the former Iraqi dictator is found guilty he can face the ultimate punishment.

Al-Rubaie told Rather that Hussein will be handed over very soon, probably in a couple of days time. After Rather's interview, Iraq's new prime minister issued a statement saying Saddam will be handed over within two weeks.

The former Iraqi dictator has been in U.S. custody in an undisclosed location since he was found last December, but his status has been under discussion as the U.S.-led occupation's end approaches.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has indicated that under international law, Saddam must be charged or released after the formal end of the occupation since he was detained as a prisoner of war.

The six-month old Iraqi Special Tribunal which Chalabi is organizing has struggled to put appropriate security safeguards in place.

War crimes experts have cautioned that as long as violence prevails in Iraq, the trial of Saddam and at least 100 others suspected of committing atrocities against the Iraqi people should wait — unless a foreign venue can be found.

Judges have refused to work for the tribunal after five potential candidates were killed since Saddam was toppled from power last year. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on security alone.

It is unclear what crimes Saddam will be charged with committing.

The nonprofit group Indict, which has pressed for years for Saddam to be prosecuted for war crimes charges, contends he is guilty of aggression in wars against Iran and Kuwait, genocide for campaigns against the March Arabs and curds, crimes against humanity for using chemical weapons and brutally suppressing the 1991 Shiite revolt, and torture.

The Iraqi tribunal is empowered to prosecute war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of specified Iraqi law.

Jacques Verges, an 80-year-old French lawyer, has agreed to defend Saddam. He has promised to put the spotlight on the United States for its years of support of Saddam, and to call such witnesses as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.