[JURIST] Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] was formally charged Monday with murder, torture and illegally arresting 399 people in Dujail as part of a crackdown in the town after an assassination attempt on Hussein's life. Hussein's trial [JURIST news archive] began in October, but under Iraqi criminal law [summary, PDF; Iraqi Criminal Procedure Code, PDF], defendants are not formally charged until after the prosecution has presented its evidence. Judges then decide which specific charges will stand and the defense begins its case. Presiding Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman [BBC profile] charged Hussein with the deaths of nine villagers, torture of women and children, ordering the razing of farmlands [JURIST report] and arresting nearly 400 Dujail residents. Hussein was not charged in connection with the deaths of 148 people who were executed after being found guilty [JURIST report] by Hussein's Revolutionary Court for their involvement in the assassination attempt.
Hussein and his seven co-defendants all refused to enter a plea after the charges were read in court and Abdel-Rahman entered not guilty pleas on their behalf. The defense will now begin presenting its case. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
9:52 AM ET 5/24/06 - Grotian Moment has now posted English translations of the charging instrument for Saddam Hussein [PDF text] and similar documents for Hussein's co-defendants. Hussein is charged with crimes against humanity under Article 12 of the Iraqi High Criminal Court Law [PDF text] for the murder, relocation of the population, imprisonment, torture, compulsory concealment of people, and other inhumane acts in connection with the Dujail crackdown. Contrary to press reports at the time, the accusations against Hussein do cover the 148 executions carried out after the assassination attempt on Hussein's life. English translations of all charges against the defendants are available here.