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A Haggard Saddam Forced to His Trial

February 13, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt Monday in a line of Iraqis waiting to receive government payments, killing eight people and wounding about 30, including children, police said.

Eleven other people were killed in attacks elsewhere in the country, including five members of a Shiite religious party and four policemen, among them a colonel.

In other developments, Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants appeared in court as their trial resumed, with the former president complaining that he had been forced to attend. Also Monday, Al-Arabiya TV broadcast footage of two German hostages surrounded by their kidnappers, who threatened to kill the captives if Germany doesn’t meet their demands.

The suicide attack occurred in a mostly Shiite eastern district of Baghdad as people lined up at a bank Monday morning to receive government checks to compensate for incomplete food rations.

Police Lt. Ali Abbas said the attacker joined the line and blew himself up while security guards were searching people before allowing them to enter the bank.

Eight people were killed and at least 30 wounded, said police Lt. Ali Mittab and Raid Jabbar, a medic at the Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken. The wounded included three children and nine women, Abbas said.

British military police said Monday they had arrested one man in their investigation of a video that appeared to show soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq. The Ministry of Defense declined to identify the man, who was arrested Sunday night.

Video images first reported by the News of the World, a Sunday newspaper, appeared to show soldiers dragging several young Iraqis into a compound and beating them with fists and batons.

The newspaper said the video was filmed in southern Iraq by a corporal two years ago. It did not name the soldier or the unit involved.

Photos of U.S. troops tormenting and humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad in 2003 caused worldwide revulsion, and British troops have faced other allegations of abuse.

Elsewhere in Iraq, gunmen killed three brothers and two of their sons in an attack on a street in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said. All five were identified as members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s leading Shiite political party, police said.

A roadside bomb attack in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, killed two policemen and wounded one, police said. Gunmen also shot dead a policeman protecting electricity generating facilities near a hospital in Baghdad’s Sadr City, police said.

In the volatile western city of Ramadi, insurgents killed a police colonel as he drove to work, said Lt. Mohsen al-Dulaimi. Drive-by gunmen also killed an Oil Ministry employee as he was driving in western Baghdad and another man in Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, police said.

Iraq’s former electricity minister, Ayham al-Samarie, escaped injury when a roadside bomb exploded near his three-vehicle convoy in Baghdad, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq. Two bodyguards were wounded.

The motive for the attack was not clear. Al-Samarie, a Sunni Arab political figure, was a member of the transitional government established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Hussein shouted ``Down with Bush″ as he entered the courtroom on Monday and complained that he was being forced to attend the trial. He and his seven co-defendants have boycotted past sessions of the trial, refusing to work with court-appointed defense attorneys named after their own defense team walked out in protest.

The hearing marks the latest turmoil in the trial of Saddam and his co-defendants for the killing of nearly 150 Shiite Muslims after the former ruler survived a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

In the latest hostage video, Al-Arabiya TV’s newscaster said the kidnappers, identified as Tawhid and Sunnah Brigade, warned the German government that it was the ``last chance″ to comply with their demands or they will kill Thomas Nitschke and Rene Braeunlich, who were abducted Jan. 24 in Beiji, north of Baghdad.

In a previous tape, the group called on the German government to cut all ties with Iraq.

Update hourly