As promised by his lawyers, deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein refused to accept the charges against him before the tribunal set up to try him for 30 years of crimes against humanity. He appeared defiant, questioning the tribunal's authority, insisting on being called "president of the republic," and defending the 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait by his armed forces as having been carried out "for the Iraqi people." His trial has yet to be scheduled but is not expected until next year. Eleven others who held senior posts in his regime also were arraigned individually Thursday, and sources said, "Some of them looked very worried."
Friday's deadline for setting the date in September for Afghan-istan's long-awaited national election won't be met, a senior interim government official said, meaning the voting may be delayed until spring. He blamed the situation on a need for further consultations with political interests. Voting originally was to have taken place last month, but it had to be postponed for security reasons. Interim President Hamid Karzai repeatedly has said that credibility demands it be held this year.
Police and protest organizers disputed the size of the turnout Thursday in Hong Kong demanding full democracy, but by both accounts the number of marchers was in the hundreds of thousands. One campaigner told journalists the protesters wanted the right to elect their own representatives but were not seeking independence from China. Still, analysts said the size of the turnout could raise new worry in the ruling Communist Party about losing control of the ex-British colony.
Defeat appeared all but certain for incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri in her bid for a second term after a lackluster performance in Indonesia's first presidential debate. The vote is set for Monday. Late opinion polls showed her trailing challenger Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a retired Army general and former security minister, by 30 points. But critics said she failed to help her cause in the debate Wednesday night against a lower-rated candidate. A second debate among the remaining challengers was under way as the Monitor went to press.
Oil industry giant Yukos, one of Russia's most important companies, was under enormous pressure to settle a $3.4 billion back-taxes claim. Bailiffs accompanied by a police guard served the company with papers Thursday, giving it five days to pay or have its assets seized and sold. The bailiffs also could choose to serve Yukos's banks with the same order, shrinking the deadline to three days. The company has offered to pay one-third of the claim but says it lacks the funds for the rest and could go bankrupt if the order isn't rescinded.