Saddam Hussein and seven senior members of his toppled regime go on trial Wednesday to face charges they ordered the 1982 killings of nearly 150 people from the mainly Shi'ite town of Dujail following a failed attempt on Saddam's life.
Court officials have said they are trying Saddam on the Dujail massacre first because it was the easiest and quickest case to put together. Other cases they are investigating - including a crackdown on the Kurds that killed an estimated 180,000 people - involve much larger numbers of victims, more witnesses and more documentation.
If convicted, Saddam and his co-defendants could face the death penalty, but they could appeal before another chamber of the Iraqi Special Tribunal.
Saddam and his co-defendants are expected to hear the charges against them during Wednesday's hearing, and the court will address procedural matters. The trial is then expected to be adjourned for several weeks.
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