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Iraq wants Saddam by end of the month
Updated: 2004-06-15 14:04

The new Iraqi government wants custody of Saddam Hussein and all other prisoners by the time sovereignty is handed over at the end of this month, the interim prime minister said.

Handcuffs hang in a tent window in the Abu Ghraib prison yard as detainees line up to be released Monday June 14, 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq. Hundreds of prisoners were released a day after the U.S. military pledged that as many as 1,400 detainees will either be released or transferred to Iraqi authorities by June 30. [AP]
U.S. forces have said they will continue to hold up to 5,000 prisoners believed to be a threat to the coalition even after the June 30 restoration of sovereignty. They say as many as 1,400 detainees will either be released or transferred to Iraqi authorities.

But in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Iraqi officials expect to take possession of Saddam and all other detainees with the transfer of power.

"All the detainees will be transferred to the Iraqi authorities and the transporting operation will be done within the two coming weeks," Allawi said. "Saddam and the others will be delivered to the Iraqis."

He said the former Iraqi president would stand trial "as soon as possible" but gave no specific timeframe. The detainees and "Saddam as well will be handed to the Iraqi government, and you can consider this as an official confirmation," he added.

International Red Cross officials visited Saddam Hussein at his secret prison on April 27, 2004. Hussein is seen after his capture December 13, 2003. [Reuters]
Saddam has been in American custody at an undisclosed location in Iraq since his capture last December near Tikrit. His status has been under discussion as the formal end of the U.S.-led occupation approaches.

The Baghdad-based spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said coalition authorities must file criminal charges against Saddam or let him go when sovereignty is transferred.

The new interim government is trying to assert itself even as Iraqi and U.S. forces struggle to keep order in Iraq.

On Monday, a car bomb destroyed a convoy of Westerners in Baghdad, killing at least 13 people, including three General Electric workers and two bodyguards.

The blast, during the morning rush hour near busy Tahrir Square, was the second vehicle bombing in Baghdad in as many days.

Iraq's interior minister said he believed foreigners carried out the attack, and Allawi accused Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of trying to disrupt the transfer of sovereignty. Al-Zarqawi, believed to have contacts with al-Qaida, is accused in last month's decapitation of American Nicholas Berg.

The dead included three employees of Granite Services Inc., a wholly owned, Tampa, Fla.-based subsidiary of General Electric Co., and two security contractors employed by Olive Security of London. The Westerners included one American, two Britons, one Frenchman and one victim of undetermined nationality, officials said.

U.S. officials said 62 people were injured, including 10 foreign contractors. Hospital officials said many of the wounded had lost limbs.

The foreign victims were helping to rebuild power plants, Allawi said.

GE said Monday it has no plans to pull its workers out of the country.

"We remain committed to the reconstruction of Iraq," said GE spokeswoman Louise Binns.

In other violence Monday, a roadside bomb struck an Army convoy of 20 vehicles about three miles north of Fallujah, witnesses said. It could not be immediately determined if there were any casualties.

Near the town of Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad, police said a car bomb exploded between police vehicles, killing four people and wounding four. The report could not be independently confirmed.

In Mosul, four members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were wounded when a bomb exploded as they were patrolling near a U.S. base.

In Kut, authorities said attackers hurled two grenades at an American patrol. One Iraq on a motorcycle was wounded in the crossfire, witnesses said.

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