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Hearing Set for Aides of Hussein

Fighting has persisted as well in Baghdad and a corridor running west along the Euphrates River through Fallujah and Ramadi, where 10 Marines have been killed in the past three days.

[Early Wednesday, the U.S. military said unknown gunmen had shot and killed a Marine west of Baghdad, according to the Reuters news agency. The Marine was killed on Tuesday while carrying out operations in Anbar, a large province west of Baghdad that includes Fallujah and Ramadi.]


Adil Ali, wounded in a car bomb explosion near the Harthiya entrance to the Green Zone, is taken into Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital. The attack, the second in two days near the gate, killed two Iraqis. Seven were reported wounded. (Khalid Mohammed -- AP)

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In a visit to Baghdad Tuesday, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged that fighting was continuing in Fallujah, which U.S. forces had declared under their control after an assault last month.

"There are still pockets of people that are resisting, insurgents that are resisting, and they'll have to be dealt with," Myers told reporters at Camp Liberty, where he was visiting along with a USO troupe.

Many of Fallujah's 250,000 residents fled ahead of the fighting, which destroyed much of the city. Myers said he hoped some would begin returning in "the next few days."

The start of the judicial proceedings against Hussein's lieutenants has been a subject of speculation for months. In September, Allawi called for the tribunal to speed up its proceedings against Hussein and his aides and begin the trials before the January vote. Others in the government have said the trials would not begin until 2006.

Some of Hussein's top lieutenants have been held for more than a year at a facility near the Baghdad airport, and on Monday, the U.S. military acknowledged that eight of them had refused food over the weekend to demand visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross, although they were eating again by Monday.

In July, they appeared before the Iraqi Special Tribunal to face preliminary charges against the former regime, among them war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his statement Tuesday, Allawi said another mass grave had been found near the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. He said it held at least 500 bodies.

Some officials have complained that the tribunal is not prepared to begin the trials. A U.S. official has said that one detainee had met an attorney Sunday, but other lawyers have complained that they have yet to have the access they need to plan a comprehensive defense.

"The whole process has been shrouded in secrecy," said Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group based in New York. "Understandably, there are real security concerns, but that need for security doesn't preclude issuing information on whether indictments have been issued and whether lawyers have had access to the accused." Dicker said he worried that the proceedings could become a "political show trial."

The tribunal has not been without its own controversy. Its original head, Salem Chalabi, was ousted abruptly in September after a warrant was issued for his arrest on murder charges that he said were trumped up.

"I think it is too early. Saddam's lawyers have not met him yet," he wrote from London in response to an e-mail. "How can they be reasonably allowed to conduct a defense -- that is if the trials are to be fair -- without having met their client?"

Some in Baghdad worried that the timing of the trials was wrong -- providing a justification for more attacks -- and that the government lacked the credibility to stage them.

"They should wait until after the elections," said Wisam Ahmed, who owns a shoe store in the Karrada neighborhood. "If the coming government is really representative of the Iraqi people, then it will give Saddam a just trial."

Staff writer Josh White and special correspondents Khalid Saffar and Bassam Sebti in Baghdad contributed to this report.


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