BAGHDAD, Iraq – Gunmen killed the brother of the chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial Monday, as the ex-president called in an open letter for Iraqis to forgive their American enemies and stop sectarian killings because the country’s “liberation is at hand.”
The letter appeared to be an effort by Saddam to cast himself in the role of a statesman who could reconcile and rebuild a nation now torn by intensifying sectarian bloodshed between Shiites and Sunnis, continuing attacks by Sunni insurgents and worsening economic problems.
“The hour of liberation is at hand, God willing. But remember that your near-term goal is confined to freeing your country from the forces of occupation and their followers, and not to be preoccupied in settling scores,” Saddam wrote in the Arabic-language letter.
Court officials said Monday that a verdict and sentence would be handed down Nov. 5 in the first trial against Saddam, for the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.
The slaying of the brother of the top prosecutor in Saddam’s second trial, Imad al-Faroon, added to the fears of sectarian violence. Al-Faroon was shot and killed in front of his wife at his home in Baghdad.