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Militants Kill Iraqi Reporter for US-Funded Alhurra TV

Gunmen killed journalist Abdul Hussein Khazal and his three-year-old son, Mohammed, as they left their home in Basra Wednesday.

Mr. Khazal was a correspondent for the U.S.-funded television station Alhurra, which launched about a year ago. The name Alhurra means "the free ones," and the Virginia-based channel was designed to compete with other Arab satellite channels, including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

Alhurra's news director said everyone at the station is deeply saddened by the loss of their Iraqi colleague and his son.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 36 other journalists have been killed in the line of duty in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003. Half of those have been Iraqis. The CPJ says another 18 media workers have also been killed, a number that includes Iraqi drivers, translators, "fixers" and security guards working for members of the news media.

The group says more than 20 foreign reporters have been kidnapped in Iraq since last year. Two of those remain in captivity. French journalist Florence Aubenas has been missing for more than a month, and Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena was snatched out of her car in Baghdad last week.

Ms. Sgrena's newspaper, the Communist daily Il Manifesto, says there has been indirect contact made with her kidnappers. The Italian paper says an unidentified intermediary has been allowed to see her twice this week, and she appears to be in good health.

There has been no word on the fate of the French reporter.

In other news, a Western legal adviser to Iraq's special tribunal says the trials of Saddam Hussein and some of his top aides could begin within weeks. The legal expert, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the accused will sit before a five-judge panel, which will hear evidence against them and hand down their verdicts and sentences. He refused to say which of the imprisoned ex-officials will be prosecuted first.

The next step in the process will come when the investigating judges hand formal charges down to the five trial judges. The expert said that could happen in a few weeks.