Council talks of Hussein trial
By Wire services
Published December 18, 2003
BAGHDAD - Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council met for the first time Wednesday to look into ways of appointing judges to a new war crimes tribunal that could try Saddam Hussein.
One council member, Adnan Pachachi, said Iraq's tribunal would welcome "foreign judges if we feel it's necessary."
"We just started today preliminary discussions on methods and procedures to appoint judges" to the tribunal, said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a Shiite physician and longtime human rights activist.
A committee of highly qualified lawyers could recommend candidates to be judges on the tribunal, which will try former members of Hussein's regime for human rights abuses stretching back decades, Rubaie said.
HUSSEIN NEAR BAGHDAD: The Governing Council said Hussein was being held in the Baghdad area, according to Reuters. Asked about reports that U.S. forces had moved him to the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, Rubaie said: "Saddam Hussein is present in an area of greater Baghdad. . . . God willing ... he will be tried in Iraq in public by an Iraqi court."
Accidental explosion kills 10, hurts 20 in Baghdad
BAGHDAD - A powerful explosion killed at least 10 people, and injured 20, after a truck collided with a bus at an intersection in western Baghdad early Wednesday.
The Iraqi police reported initially that the explosion was caused by a bomb in the truck, but the U.S. military said later that tests showed no traces of explosives and that the truck appeared to be a fuel tanker that had merely crashed.
The explosion took place about half a mile from the Amil police station in the Bayaa area of southwest Baghdad. Among the dead were three children: two girls and a boy who was ripped apart by the blast.
The force of the explosion blasted the cab of the truck at least 300 feet from the impact with the bus. Apartment block windows were shattered and bits of human flesh were scattered through the blood-stained street. At least three cars were destroyed in the blast.
Italy supports reducing Iraq's foreign debt
ROME - President Bush's envoy to Iraq received support Wednesday from Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi for a plan to relieve Baghdad's huge debt burden, adding another European nation to the list supporting the U.S. goal.
Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III was already upbeat after winning agreement from Germany and France this week, the first concrete cooperation in rebuilding Iraq from two nations that fiercely opposed the U.S.-led war. Berlusconi's government, on the other hand, has been a staunch U.S. supporter on Iraq policy.
Elder Bushes rejoiced after Hussein's capture
HOUSTON - President Bush's parents were "overjoyed" to learn of Saddam Hussein's capture, the former president said Wednesday in his first public remarks about the arrest.
Former President George Bush, who spoke briefly to reporters while touring the vascular surgery program at the Houston VA Medical Center, acknowledged he had "great pride" in the news.
"But it's a far more important and wonderful blessing for our country," he said. "It was one magical moment. It made up for the fact that (President Bush) invited me for Thanksgiving and didn't even show up ... because he was in Baghdad."
Halliburton overcharges blamed on bad accounting
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon's comptroller said Wednesday he saw "no basis whatsoever" to believe Vice President Dick Cheney's former company deliberately overcharged the Pentagon for oil deliveries to Iraq.
Instead, the potential overcharge appeared to stem from an outdated accounting and cost-estimating system within Halliburton Co., said the comptroller, Dov Zakheim. The company's KBR unit, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root Inc., failed to analyze fully the price it was charged by a Kuwaiti supplier, he said.
A recent Defense Department audit found that KBR sought as much as $61-million in excess charges for oil deliveries to Iraq.
An aide said Zakheim told defense writers at a breakfast: "The issue is not one of concealment. . . . The issue is that they've got a rather antiquated accounting system."
The Pentagon has said that any overbilling would come out of Halliburton's pockets. The Houston-based oil and gas company would then have to wrest the money back from a Kuwaiti subcontractor suspected of overcharging it for the oil.
Capture encourages Asian nations on deployments
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea finalized plans Wednesday to send 3,000 troops to Iraq as Asian governments expressed optimism for peace and the U.S.-led reconstruction after Saddam Hussein's capture.
Japan plans to send its first main troop contingent in late February after months of delay, a major Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday. And Thailand reportedly will keep hundreds of its troops in Iraq with hopes that security will improve after Saturday's seizure of Hussein.
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