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Saddam trial likely to be postponed, UK official says

[JURIST] The trial of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] for the 1982 killings of 143 Shiite Muslims in the village of Dujail [JURIST report] will likely be postponed, according to a senior British official. Earlier this week, the Iraqi Special Tribunal [official website] officially confirmed that the trial would start October 19 [JURIST report], but the unnamed official said Wednesday that Iraq will not have time to finish preparations before then, suggesting the trial could be delayed until December. The report of a possible delay comes as one of Hussein's lawyers said that the defense team had run out of money [Telegraph report]. Khalil Dulaimi said that the Iraqi government had not responded to a request for legal aid, and he also threatened to stop talking to reporters unless western media sources contributed money to Hussein's legal costs. In another development, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] told Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram [media website] that supporters of Hussein, who Talabani says are among those behind insurgent attacks in Iraq, are making efforts to negotiate with the United States [AAP report]. According to Talabani, Hussein supporters have offered to halt attacks in exchange for a pledge that Hussein will not be executed if found guilty. In June, a London-based paper reported that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered to take the death penalty off the table [JURIST report] for Hussein's trial if insurgents put down their arms, but that the offer was turned down. Talabani has repeatedly said that he will refuse to sign any Saddam death order [JURIST report], saying that he would resign instead. The Guardian has more.

10:54 AM ET - A spokesperson for the Iraqi Special Tribunal denied rumors Thursday that Saddam Hussein's trial will be postponed, confirming the October 19 start date. However, sources close to the court have said that the tribunal will only hold a short session to hear motions for a delay in proceedings. Reuters has more.

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