Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for US occupation forces in Iraq, said on Monday that Saddam will stand for trial before an Iraqi court within one week.

However, Kimmitt noted that Saddam and his aides will remain in the physical custody of US occupation forces. 

Another military official confirmed that Saddam and other "high-value detainees" will be handed over to the legal custody of Iraqis.

"He (Saddam) will stand in front of an Iraqi judge and he will be handed his indictments," the official said, without stating what the charges would be.

Iraqi custody

The officials were speaking after the US-led occupation authority formally transferred authority to an interim Iraqi government, two days earlier than expected, on Monday.

Iraq's national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubai said on Sunday that Saddam Hussein would be handed over to Iraqi police by the United States.
 
Rubai said that when the time came, "very soon", two American soldiers would take Saddam from his cell in handcuffs and turn him over to four Iraqi policemen. The ousted president would then be taken before a judge, where he would stand without handcuffs.

Saddam was detained on 13 December last year by US occupation forces in a hole underneath a farm in his hometown of Tikrit.