Saddam fires death-squad accusations at new regime

SADDAM Hussein yesterday accused Iraq's new Shiite-run interior ministry of killing and torturing thousands of Iraqis.

He said in court that the ministry was running death squads, and of being "the side that kills thousands in the street and tortures them".

Saddam, who could be hanged for his part in the deaths of 148 Shiite men and teenagers after an attempt on his life in the town of Dujail in 1982, remained defiant in the face of fresh charges that he ordered genocide against Kurds in the 1980s and destroyed their villages.

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When the judge interrupted him, Saddam said: "If you're scared of the interior minister, he doesn't scare my dog."

The trial was adjourned until today.

Saddam may be in the dock again for another trial as early as next month, potentially leading to a drawn-out legal process in a country where most people want closure on a bloody past..

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