The trial will be the first of any members of Hussein's former government.

Barzan, Ramadan and three others will now be tried before a panel of five judges for the 1982 killing of 143 residents of Dujail, 65km northeast of Baghdad, the tribunal said in a statement.

The trial will not begin for at least another 45 days, it said.

Crimes against humanity

In a court session on Monday, the tribunal's chief investigative judge Roj Juhi informed the five defendants who appeared in court that they would be brought to trial, bringing an end to the formal investigation period.

Ramadan is accused of killing
143 residents of Dujail

Hussein and 11 senior aides, including Barzani and Ramadan, made court appearances last July for the first time since their capture when they were informed they were under investigation for crimes against humanity.

They are being held in a US-run detention centre near Baghdad awaiting trial.

A Western legal expert told reporters on Monday it was not clear when the tribunal's investigative judges would conclude their probes of Hussein and his other aides, the necessary step before recommending the men be brought to trial.

Dujail incident

The Iraqi government said Sunday that another half-brother of Hussein, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti had been detained.

The alleged Dujail killings came after villagers tried to kill Hussein as he was being driven through the village in a motorcade, it said.

"Hundreds of people were arrested, some were executed and others including women, men and children were wrongly arrested and held at Al-Sumawa desert in Lia location for four years," the statement said.

"The fruit groves of the families of those arrested were destroyed," said the statement from the court set up by the US-led coalition in December 2003 to try former regime members.

The court said the detainees charged with the alleged Dujail incident were former intelligence service chief Barzan, Ramadan and Awad Hamad al-Bander al-Saadun, former chief judge of the revolutionary court.

Abd Allah Kadam Rawid al-Mushaikhi and his son Mizhir Roweed al-Mushaikhi, both local officials in Dujail of Hussein's Baath party, were also being charged, it said.

"The detainees of this case are also accused of other crimes still being investigated," said the court.