Hussein Trial in '82 Deaths Set to Begin Next Month

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The trial of Saddam Hussein will begin in six weeks, the government said Sunday, when he and seven aides face a special tribunal on charges of massacring almost 150 residents from the town of Dujail, the scene of a failed assassination attempt against Mr. Hussein 23 years ago.

Laith Kubba, a spokesman for the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said the trial would begin Oct. 19, four days after a national vote on a proposed new constitution. The trial raises the possibility that Mr. Hussein, who faces the death penalty if convicted, could be hanged within months.

Four days ago, Iraq carried out its first court-ordered execution since the fall of Mr. Hussein's government, hanging three people convicted in May in the southern city of Kut of rapes and killings.

The charges stem from the killing of 143 people and the imprisonment of hundreds of families after the assassination attempt in Dujail on July 8, 1982, he said.

After the failed attack on Mr. Hussein, Iraqi officials executed men and boys from Dujail, a largely Shiite town 35 miles north of Baghdad. Investigators for the special tribunal that will try Mr. Hussein have said another 1,500 Dujail residents were later ordered incarcerated in a prison in a desolate stretch of desert near the Saudi Arabian border.

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