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Sweden rejects Saddam trial plea

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14:41 CEST+02:00
Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who faces trial on charges of crimes against humanity, will not be permitted to stand trial or serve his sentence in Sweden, a Swedish official said on Monday.

"We have said 'no'," justice ministry director Ann Marie Bolin Pennegård told AFP, referring to a request from one of Hussein's lawyers for him to either await trial, stand trial or serve his sentence in Sweden.

Pennegård on Friday sent the Swedish government's answer to Hussein's attorney Giovanni di Stefano.

"Sweden has no intention of filing a request to the competent authorities in Iraq for a transfer of Saddam Hussein to Sweden before his trial," Pennegård wrote in the fax.

"Nor has Sweden considered the issue of establishing a seat of the Iraqi Special Tribunal in Sweden. It is also to be noted that there is no possibility under present Swedish legislation ... to let Saddam Hussein serve any possible sentence in a Swedish prison after his trial," she added.

According to a report in Swedish daily Aftonbladet on Monday, Di Stefano is now planning to ask Iraq and the United Nations to file an official request for Sweden to accept Hussein before, during or after the trial.

"If Iraq or the UN sends a request to Sweden this could still happen," he told the paper, insisting that holding a trial in Baghdad would be too dangerous for Hussein.

"One couldn't stop an Egyptian ambassador from recently being kidnapped and murdered in Baghdad. And there is a war going on there, and how can one hold a trial when bombs are exploding outside the door?" he asked.

"It is no longer just about Saddam Hussein getting a fair trial but also about him getting a safe trial," Di Stefano insisted.

Pennegård said that for the time being Swedish authorities were unlikely to change their minds.

"If completely new information comes to light we will of course have to evaluate this again," she told AFP.

Hussein, who was overthrown more than two years ago after a US-led invasion, has been in US detention since December 2003, along with dozens of his deputies.

Earlier this month a panel of Iraqi judges filed the first charges against Hussein in a case relating to the 1982 killing of 143 residents of the village of Dujali, northeast of Baghdad.

Other investigations, including those of alleged genocide against the country's Kurdish and Shiite communities, were continuing.

AFP

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