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October 17, 2005 3:00 AM

Saddam rose from squalor to become a defiant, destructive leader

In one of his first acts as Iraqi president in 1979, Saddam Hussein stood the accuser, not the accused. He ordered the removal of more than 20 members of Iraqs top legislative body, called them spies and watched as a spotlight followed each being taken away to face execution. No trial, no judge, no defense. A tribunal this week begins weighing charges against Saddam and seven other defendants in connection with the 1982 massacre of Shiites in a village north of Baghdad. For Saddam, 68 born into squalor and given a first name that means he who confronts the trial will be yet another test of survival against the longest of odds.

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