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57 Iraqi Police Are Charged With Torture

Meanwhile, a subdued Saddam Hussein returned to court for his genocide trial, two days after being sentenced to hang for war crimes in the 1980s killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail.

"I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," Saddam said after respectfully challenging one witness' testimony.

Saddam's trial in connection with the deaths of 180,000 Kurds, most of them civilians, in the 1987-88 crackdown called Operation Anfal, will continue while an appeal in the Dujail case is under way.

Traffic was back on the streets of Baghdad after the lifting of a round-the-clock curfew that was largely successful in heading off sectarian violence that was feared after the verdict.

The U.S. military said a Baghdad-based soldier was killed by a roadside bomb on Monday, bringing the death toll among U.S. troops this month to 19. A British soldier was killed in an attack Monday on a base in the southern city of Basra, the first British casualty this month.

The U.S. military said this month's American casualties included two lieutenant colonels, among the highest ranking soldiers to die in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Lt. Col. Eric J. Kruger, 40, was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb along with Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, 40, and Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Gage, 28. All three men were riding in a Humvee in eastern Baghdad.

Fighting also was reported between gunmen and U.S. soldiers in the western city of Ramadi, a center of pro-Saddam sentiment among the former Sunni ruling class. Police and the military said they had no word on casualties.

In other violence reported by official, six Iraqi soldiers died in sniper attacks and a roadside bombing in Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, and at least five people were killed and 22 wounded in renewed mortar barrages against northern Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Azamiyah district.

The government on Monday reached out to disaffected Sunnis in hopes of enticing them away from the insurgency, which has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and is responsible for the vast majority of U.S. casualties. The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification has prepared a draft law that could see thousands of members of Baath party reinstated in their jobs, the commission's head told The Associated Press.

A national reconciliation plan that was announced in June by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, in which he called for reviewing the de-Baathification program.

The United States dissolved and banned the Baath party in May 2003, a month after toppling Saddam. The U.S. later softened its stance, inviting former high-level officers from the disbanded military to join the security forces.

The former top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, also allowed thousands of teachers who were Baathists to return to work. He conceived of the so-called de-Baathification effort but later found it had gutted key ministries and the military.

About 1.5 million of Iraq's 27 million people belonged to the Baath party _ formally known as the Baath Arab Socialist Party _ when Saddam was ousted. Most said they joined for professional, not ideological, reasons.


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© 2006 The Associated Press